For generations now, the physical concept of buying things in a real-world, brick and mortar retail outlet has remained the same. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a giant chain franchise, or a small, independently owned business, the purchasing process is the same. People get the items they want to buy, and once they’re ready to leave, they go to a cash or checkout counter, present their goods, and then undertake some type of merchant processing activity, whether it’s handing over cash, using a debit card, or presenting a credit card to pay for the goods.
But technology has a way of changing things in unexpected ways. The blacksmiths of the 19th century never suspected that their trade would be taken away by factories, and while most people can’t imagine buying something in a store without paying for it at a counter, this might be changing too! The concept of money and financial credit isn’t going away anytime soon. But the idea that there’s only one location in an entire store to handle that transaction is beginning to be challenged.
Surprisingly, since it was Amazon that first challenge the notion of shopping at a physical store, Amazon later began experiments with their own retail outlets! And one of the things the company is working on is a “counter-less store” concept. We’ve already hit the stage where cash is far from the only way to pay for goods, and there are easier, digital means, such as using debit cards, credit cards, or even apps on a smartphone to handle payments. As a result of this, the importance of a human employee handling a counter with a cash register to take payments and issue change isn’t as important as it once was. Amazon has been experimenting with systems where sensors monitor goods in the store, while wireless digital merchant services handle payments. The ultimate goal of all this testing is to create a retail outlet where customers can visit a store, look at the products they want, buy them on the spot, at the shelf, or hanger, and then simply walk out of the store, with their receipt of sale preserved digitally on record.
There are plenty of ways that this type of merchant processing service is being handled even today! Many stores now have automated “purchasing kiosks” where people can check out products on their own without human intervention. But other stores are now experimenting with truly mobile POS terminals, where employees can go to where the customer is to conduct the purchase, and let them leave the store. There are plenty of interesting advantages to exploring this transaction philosophy! On the one hand, it means that a fairly sizable chunk of floor space may now be “reclaimed” for products or display. This can be especially important for smaller businesses that are opening up shops in smaller commercial spaces. But also means that busier times of the day don’t necessarily mean congestion at a counter due to crowds all trying to make a purchase!
Posted in Merchant Card Services on Dec 20, 2018