Can younger consumers do to grocery checkouts what they have purportedly done to diamonds, voice phone calls and certain chain restaurants? That’s the hope of at least one company that wants to see its mobile technology replace the traditional lines and POS stations at food stores.
The mobile scan-and-go technology from Rambus represents one potential path to bring more digital efficiency, better marketing and stock-keeping unit (SKU) control, and less waiting to the grocery shopping experience. Amazon Go and other projects are also striving to win partners and consumers, and transform one of the few areas of retail that still seems very 20th century.
That transformation will rely, in large part, on younger shoppers such as millennials, said Rambus Chief Technology Officer Chakib Bouda during a recent interview with PYMNTS. If that transformation happens, it will stand as only one area of commerce and payments that those consumers have changed or are in the process of changing. A recent data-rich report from PYMNTS, for instance, shows how so-called “bridge millennials” are upending the $400 billion apparel and accessories industry.
It’s not just younger consumers who can drive changes in grocery shopping, though. In Bouda’s telling, single moms quickly seeking a few ingredients for the evening meal could be attracted to mobile-scan-and-go technology. So could other consumers who fill gas tanks and then grab a few items at convenience stores, which, after all, “are becoming bigger and bigger, like little grocery stores.”
Not everyone has to be in a rush, though. Digital apps, such as the Rambus product, enable personalized offers based on consumer purchase history.
“Once consumers are engaged in a retailer app, the collected data around someone’s buying behavior can be used to make more relevant and personalized recommendations that lead to up-sell and cross-sell opportunities and, hence, boost retail sales,” Bouda said.
Such technology requires an onboarding process, during which consumers store their payment info via the scan-and-go technology. As consumers shop, they scan products they want to buy, with a tally kept by the technology.
“We want to be able to support as many payment options as possible,” Bouda said, explaining one of the keys to earning mainstream, long-term consumer support for such technology. “We want to connect to multiple payment gateways.”
It can save labor costs as stores need fewer cashiers — and stores can actually shift workers to direct customer assistance, with the product capable of calling such help to the aisles where customers are shopping. As another bonus, they can use square footage once devoted to checkout lanes for more product displays.
Bouda said Rambus has been working on mobile scan-and-go for about three years. The company, in fact, has released a paper about the technology, entitled “Mobile Scan-and-Go Technology: Enabling the Future of Retail.”
Beyond that, he declined to release details about the technology, including how Rambus will make its money from the product, and where and when it hopes to roll it out publicly. He did say the future for the technology involved value-added services, such as loyalty programs — a common theme as tech and payments firms try to make grocery shopping less dependent on checkout lanes.
There is good reason for that. According to a new IoT and grocery report from PYMNTS, 38.5 percent of grocery shoppers would buy more if given coupons, and more than 39 percent would buy sooner. Additionally, nearly half of surveyed consumers told PYMNTS they had used a grocery store’s app regularly or occasionally last year, with most reporting they did so to get better deals, discounts and price comparisons.
Rambus will, no doubt, face increasing competition in appealing to the digital desires of grocery shoppers and the demands of a new generation of consumers. But those companies seem likely to find very receptive audiences.