GlobalData’s 2022 Prediction: ‘The Future Is Checkout-Free.’

GlobalData predicts the international expansion of checkout-free stores, non-food specialist stores using ‘ambient commerce,’ and increased global competition.

In their latest technology, media, and telecoms (TMT) report, the leading data and analytics company, GlobalData describes how checkout-free shopping (also known as ‘ambient commerce’) allows customers to simply ‘grab’ the items they want, quickly and easily.

Accelerated by COVID-19, a new range of technology has been developed and deployed to track consumer movements within stores, and… automatically charge their accounts.

Jemima Walker (an Analyst in the Thematic Research team at GlobalData) highlights that “as consumer demand for ‘safe shopping’ accelerates due to COVID-19, and as the return on investment (ROI) of checkout-free tech is revealed, retailers that have already implemented this technology such as Tesco, Aldi, Sainsbury’s, and Carrefour, will see their advantage eroded, – as competitors join the checkout-free retail race in 2022.”

The number of mentions of ‘ambient commerce’ in retail company filings more than doubled from 157 in 2016, to 320 in 2021 (YTD) with worldwide adoption. This means that we should expect to see more checkout-free non-food specialist stores opening soon.

At the moment, food and grocery retailers still remain the primary trailblazers of checkout-free/ambient commerce technology, as this new kind of tech is already well-suited for the sector. However, leaders in apparel, home, electronics, health, and beauty retail have been closely watching the success of this trend, and planning for their own implementation(s).

For instance, leading mall operators such as Majid Al Futtaim are beginning to experiment with the tech, across a variety of stores.

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Jemima describes how “checkout-free stores will continue to expand internationally this year, and major retailers that fail to monitor this trend will find themselves falling behind. As checkout-free stores proliferate, consumers will follow—as evidenced by their fast adoption in the APAC region.

Although, according to GlobalData’s latest UK Consumer Views Survey, “55.7% of consumers are unwilling to use a checkout-free grocery store. The greatest concern for respondents was the need to download an app and register payment details. Retailers looking to win over more consumers will need to select in-store tech providers that can deliver a convenient, frictionless experience to reassure customers,” added Jemima.

With the announcement of ‘Just Walk Out’ technology – incorporating a unified app, credit card payment options, and biometric entry, in-store tech providers now have the opportunity to compete with a lower-cost offering.

Jemima suggests that this can be achieved by partnering with widely integrated and well-established payment app platforms, such as PayPal and Venmo – or by creating a cheaper, more frictionless set-up. For example, “AiFi’s barrier-free entry tech in Carrefour’s Flash 10/10 store in Paris could be a strong contender.”

If a checkout-free grocery store opened in a location convenient to you, would you use it?

Find out more here.