Connecting Online with Offline via mobile App

Connecting the online with the offline world is something deemed essential for the brick and mortar businesses in the very near future. The challenge is now how to actually implement this connection. Retail giants like Amazon have already a clear vision how this connection looks like: they build shops (Amazon Go) that are able to track customers in the shop and to fully automate the check out process. Chinese companies like Bingobox also offer their customers automated checkout experiences.
While these automated checkout process are truly fascinating (just take what you need and walk away – payment happens automatically) there is one detail that is often overlooked but is of central importance: the App. In every scenario there is an App to authenticate/authorize the customer. In the Amazon Go store you check in with your app, in the Bingobox store you use an app to open the door and use the App to scan items.
Yes, the it’s actually the App on the smartphone of the customer that essentially connects online with offline and does a lot of the magic in the background. With a clever use of an App, existing brick and mortar stores can actually create a self checkout experience for their customers that is a close match to a much more expensive solution like the one offered by Amazon.
We are currently in the process of designing such a self checkout solution for one of our customers in book retail. In contrast to other systems, we do not build complex sensors that are able to track customers in stores. Instead, we focus our efforts on the payment functionality in the existing App. Our goal is to create a single tap self payment experience during the self checkout process. We think that a seamless payment functionality is the key: the better this works, the better the experience for the customers, the higher the acceptance of the self checkout and ultimately the better for the brick and mortar store.

[1] SOLOMON – Network for innovative brick-and-mortar store service providers

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