Ready to “Scan & Go”? Bring mobile self-checkout to your stores with commercetools Checkout

Hassam Hameed headshot
Hassam Hameed
Product Marketing Manager, commercetools
Ivo Bronsveld
Ivo Bronsveld
Head of Product, commercetools Checkout
Published 11 July 2023
Estimated reading time minutes

After years of clunky implementations or simply staying dormant in an enormous backlog, mobile self-checkout is making a comeback for brands and retailers exploring ways to increase convenience and conversions. Here’s how commercetools Checkout opens up “Scan & Go” and self-checkout possibilities, combined with the flexibility of commercetools Composable Commerce.   

If there’s a vital component in the modern retail landscape that boosts customer convenience and conversions, plus augments operational efficiency in physical stores, it's self-checkout. Autonomous shopping has been one of the top-of-mind retail trends for years, with an additional boost during the COVID-19 pandemic by enabling contactless shopping and payments. Today, 73% of consumers prefer self-checkout over staffed cashier lines. 

One of the areas in this evolution is mobile self-checkout, also known as a “scan & go” functionality. This self-service way of shopping enables customers visiting a brick-and-mortar store to scan the barcodes of items they wish to buy using their mobile devices. Customers don’t have to interact with anyone during the entire shopping experience, taking advantage of both worlds of “phygital” (the seamless combination of physical and digital shopping): They can see, feel, touch and try out products in-store while performing the checkout and payment online without hassle or wasting time. 

This autonomous checkout experience can work like this:

  • Step 1: The shopper arrives at the store, where a QR code is available to open a website (or mobile app) with a self-scanning option.

  • Step 2: While browsing the products, the shopper selects their favorite items by scanning product-specific barcodes that go straight to the digital shopping cart. The shopper can add/remove items at any time. 

  • Step 3: Once the products are selected, the shopper can proceed to checkout and pay directly on the mobile device — without going to the checkout terminal. 

  • Step 4: After payment, an “exit” QR code is generated on the website (or mobile app), so the shopper can scan it at the store’s checkout terminal. Alternatively, the shopper presents a digital receipt at the door.

Such a “grab-and-go” solution is usually complementary to self-checkout kiosks, providing several advantages for customers and retailers alike: 

  • Enable an even faster checkout process as shoppers can avoid kiosks altogether.

  • Boost personalized experiences and recommendations (especially if the customer uses the retailer’s mobile app for this use case).

  • Self-checkout kiosks require physical infrastructure and space within the store. With mobile self-checkout, retailers can keep checkout terminals to a minimum, reducing costs and freeing up valuable space for product displays or additional customer services. 

  • Unlike fixed self-checkout kiosks, a “scan & go” option can be easily scaled up or down based on demand, such as during peak hours, busy shopping seasons, etc. 

  • Mobile self-checkout is 100% contactless as it minimizes physical contact with shared surfaces, reducing the risk of spreading pathogens. 

  • “Scan & go” can be leveraged as a benefit of a loyalty or membership program.

With so many benefits retailers can unlock, why don’t we see mobile self-checkout as a standard practice? And how can commercetools Checkout help you unlock these benefits?

Why “scan & go” isn’t mainstream just yet

The uptake of mobile self-checkout in retail stores has been a hit-and-miss affair. While companies like Sam’s Club have successfully implemented scan & go checkout, many brands have steered away from it, mostly due to technological barriers. 

Just a couple of years ago, when Walmart leveraged this checkout method — and announced in 2018 that it would discontinue the service due to poor customer feedback — it was clear that the technology wasn’t mature enough to enable shoppers with a mobile-based, self-service checkout experience. As a result, retailers put mobile self-checkout as a low-priority project in their enormous backlog without ever having the resources or time to try it out.  

But times have changed and the technology advanced. Now, self-checkout tech is well-advanced and growing worldwide, QR codes work fluidly, customers have smartphones that can do the job, and Gen-Z and millennials are as tech-savvy as ever. Digital infrastructure has also evolved toward composable commerce, which is much more flexible and scalable than POS (point-of-sale) and legacy eCommerce systems, enabling retailers to create seamless omnichannel experiences that unify physical and online shopping. 

Now, retailers have a ton of reasons to unearth “scan & go” ideas from their backlog, reprioritize and test them — just like leading retailers Tesco and Aldi Nord are now doing. And the ones that once tried it and failed can resurrect the service again as Walmart did for its premium members.

How commercetools Checkout helps retailers to adopt “scan & go”

For most retailers, building a robust checkout capability that works across all channels, and is secure, seamless and convenient, is a time-consuming and complex endeavor. Many have relied on legacy platforms, which provide hard-to-customize checkout flows. Testing and implementing new ideas is difficult with outdated systems, so a more experimental checkout service, like “scan & go,” becomes one of those brilliant ideas that never see the light of day.  

Opening up these new opportunities for retailers is commercetools Checkout, a solution designed to make every touchpoint a shoppable moment. Retailers can leverage ready-to-use checkout UI components on their site or any channel, pre-integrated with commercetools Composable Commerce APIs and PSPs (payment service providers), so they can create and customize checkout experiences without limits. Another crucial benefit is the time-to-market: With commercetools Checkout, retailers can also reduce implementation efforts by 80%.

With the underlying commercetools Composable Commerce in the backend, retailers have a fully flexible and scalable infrastructure to create differentiated checkout flows. In addition, having such a powerful engine as the commerce backend means retailers can seamlessly access crucial data during the checkout process, enabling shoppers to view pricing and product information, such as whether the product is gluten-free or vegan. When data is synced with commercetools Composable Commerce, retailers can provide accurate and real-life information that is crucial for customers during their shopping journey.

This flexibility means retailers can shape their “scan & go” checkout however they want; for instance, they can provide it as a web app, so shoppers don’t have to download an application (mobile app fatigue is real!). Alternatively, the retailer can integrate this self-checkout service into its mobile app, combining it with loyalty programs and personalized offers.    

This is how retailers can greatly reduce implementation time and complexity with commercetools Checkout: 

  • With only a few lines of code, it’s possible to easily experiment and extend checkout functionality like “scan & go” and other possibilities. 

  • Customize, localize and orchestrate checkout flows, such as payment methods available per country/region or according to the purchased amount. Also, meet the peculiarities of each channel or market seamlessly.  

  • Personalize the experience with rule-based routing. Plus, not only can technical teams configure rules via APIs, but non-technical practitioners can also use commercetools’ business tooling, the Merchant Center. That way, companies can avoid cross-team silos and move faster than ever. 

  • Get peace of mind out-of-the-box with a PCI DSS-certified solution. 

  • Configuring payment options instead of integrating them cuts down on time to market.

  • And finally, commercetools Checkout enables retailers to meet their unique requirements. For example, a payment-only mode allows retailers to add fully featured PSP integrations with only a few lines of code. 

In short, commercetools maintains and operates the checkout technology. The groundwork is done, so retailers can focus on customer experience, personalization and expanding the ways to convert more and faster. 

Are you ready to experiment with mobile self-checkout and other limitless possibilities with commercetools Checkout? Contact us to discover more.

Hassam Hameed headshot
Hassam Hameed
Product Marketing Manager, commercetools

Hassam has been in the commerce space since he graduated university, loving the fast pace and modern way of working with tech companies within commerce. He started as a recruiter, but the curiosity of understanding what every department does brought him to product marketing as it sits right in the middle of sales, marketing and product.

Ivo Bronsveld
Ivo Bronsveld
Head of Product, commercetools Checkout

Ivo has been involved with commercetools Checkout from the start. He works closely with customers, partners and the team to build brand-new ways for customers to adopt composable commerce.

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