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Smart Shopping Carts – Why aren’t they here yet?

Mani Gopalakrishnan 0

A point of sale (POS) or checkout is the actual location where the hardware and software that performs the sales processes is located. In many ways this is the cash register that you typically walk up to, scan your product, and check-out. In the retail industry, the buzz at the POS is keeps the register ringing.

The technology has given POS many forms. Although, cash registers continue to reign supreme in the stores, web-based eCommerce stores (Amazon) brought the POS to your computer (better said – right into your home). This revolution was fueled by the world-wide web or the Internet. Now that mobile devices are able to bring Internet into your palm (literally), the next wave of POS evolution is beginning to occur in the form of mCommerce. Now shopping carts join the race.

Shopping Carts continue to remain pristine as all other innovations to change them have failed or met with lukewarm success. A new wave of trials also called Smart Shopping Carts are making rounds. Based on how Smart Shopping Carts are empowered, they can be categorized into the following categories:

  1. Powered by Retail-owned Smart Devices: The smart shopping carts powered by retail-owned smart devices (as the name suggests) refers to smart shopping carts with kiosks on them. As you buy the product, you are able to scan it into the cart, and potentially pay using the kiosks. These kiosks are very specific to retail locations and they can stream coupons, deals, aisle directions, and a whole slew of personalized experience. In addition, they are able to read the consumer behavior and market products intelligently to consumers. While these shopping carts work well for users without their own devices, they also give a gawky, inconvenient look to the shopping carts. This is where the consumer-owned smart device powered shopping cart come into play.
  2. Powered by Consumer-owned Smart Devices: The smart shopping carts powered by consumer-owned smart devices (as the name suggests) are yet to take off or be put into trial. Consumer-owned devices refers to iPhones, iPad, Droid devices, Windows 7 based devices, and anything that can bring Internet and app-based functionality closer to consumer. The logic is simple. You as a consumer walk into the store with your shopping list on a device and launch the App. Using location-based technology the device identifies where you are and is able to effectively guide you through aisles, stream deals, coupons, and other relevant details. You find your product and then using the camera-blur technology on your phone scan the product into your shopping cart. After completing your shopping you are able to punch in your credit card details into the phone, check-out and walk away.

Either shopping carts call for win-win scenario to both consumers and retailers. Retailers provide convenience, reduce “traffic” at the POS, reassign POS staff to support and interact with consumers, and gather insight into shopping behaviors. For consumers its all about convenience, independence, ease, speed, and all good things.

Oh well – retailers will have to improve their inventory management (i.e. accurately know bins, racks, and placement of products in aisles) and  potentially minimize the opportunity to up-sell chewing gums, and others as you wait in turn to checkout. While there have been experiments from IBM, NCR, Fujitsu and others, it really hasn’t arrived. What do you think? Will Smart Shopping Carts be here? Will they revolutionize our shopping experience? Let us know.

Image sourced Creative Commons. Click here for the original source.

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