French retailer Group Casino’s banner Monoprix is reportedly implementing a self-checkout process leveraging shoppers’ smartphones in the Parisian suburb of Clichy, Le Monde newspaper reports. Customers that install a dedicated app will be able to automatically add items to their basket by holding their smartphone close to the items' electronic shelf labels instore. Once shopping is complete, customer baskets will then be charged directly to their account without the need to go to the checkout.
"We are going to see how clients behave, whether they feel comfortable when they leave the store in full view of those queueing at the checkout." Monoprix' Chief Information Officer Xavier Guéry stated. Internally dubbed “Monop’Go” referring to the now famous Amazon Go store concept, the pilot will run for a week and be tested by Monoprix employees in Clichy, before being introduced to customers in two stores located in downtown Paris.
Therefore, trying to appeal to tech savyy regulars looking to cut down on waiting time while grabbing lunch offers is a particularly useful way to speed up traffic while enhancing footfall and customer statisfaction. Besides, the technology does not appear fundamentaly new for the retailer, which already introduced Near Field Communication (NFC) electronic shelf labels to a concept store back in 2012. Products could already be added to a virtual basket, but back then, shoppers needed to go to the checkout.
Even so, we feel that the move is intended as a technology showcase more than as a premise for a full-scale roll-out. Leveraging shoppers' smartphones has been been investigated by retailers for years, with limited results to date. We feel there is a series of practical barriers, ranging from lack of internet connection, customer willingness, thefts... which may prevent wider usage of the technology beyond a limited number of commited and loyal tech-pioneers. The service may be relevant for Food-to-Go categories but any wider usage seems uncertain. Something Xavier Guéry already hinted at, stating "The test will maybe show us that the system works for products other than snacking".