Leduc, Alberta - Special to The Sage
Imagine breezing into your favourite store – even on a Saturday afternoon! – getting what you need and getting out without having to go through a checkout line! Thanks to a new mobile checkout app, currently in development, this could soon be the new reality at your favourite retail store.
Mobile checkout would allow you to take your mobile device to the store and use it to scan items as you put them in your cart. When you are done shopping, you would get an online receipt to present for verification as you leave the store with your purchases. Store inventory would be automatically adjusted and the money immediately transferred from your bank account to the store account. No debit or credit cards necessary.
The biggest benefit of onsite mobile shopping? No more checkout lines! When you say you’re stopping by the store for five minutes to pick up milk, you could actually spend less than five minutes in the store!
If this catches on, gone are the days of being stuck in line behind the guy with questionable hygiene, the family with three overloaded carts, the coupon clipper or the person who insists on bringing 25 items through the express lane.
When you put it that way, who wouldn’t want this service?
But as mom always told you, if it sounds too good to be true …
So what’s the downside to this particular idea?
Several come to mind almost immediately, starting with the potential for products to walk out of the store unpurchased. Retailers will have to put something in place to prevent theft, such as a ‘checker’ at the door to verify that the items in the cart or bag match the online receipt. This checker could be human or electronic as long as it’s accurate and fast.
Which brings us to the second downside: If the mobile shopping idea really catches on, those verification lines could end up being as long as regular check out lines, which would ultimately defeat the whole purpose! (Think CostCo on a busy shopping day.)
Another consideration is that mobile shopping could actually put some people out of work. If mobile shopping becomes very popular, stores would need fewer cashiers to handle the rest of the shoppers.
Common sense would suggest that mobile transactions will work best with only a few items. However, as we all know, common sense isn’t as common as it should be. So stores will have to place limits on the number of items an individual can purchase in a single transaction with their mobile device. Without enforced limits on mobile transactions, it will be much more difficult to control inventory. Not to mention how impractical it would be for individuals to scan dozens of items in their carts while blocking the aisles of the store.
What we really don’t need is another app or device that gives us yet another way to avoid face to face human interactions.
What have our lives become that waiting in line for five or ten minutes causes us so much stress? Aside from those times when we are genuinely rushing from one appointment to the next, in most cases our supreme impatience is supremely unfounded. We don’t like standing in line because it forces us to slow down, to wait our turn, to recognize that it’s not always about what we want, sometimes we have to let others go first.
Don’t you just hate it when that happens?
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