Pro Tip: Consumers are always looking to retailers to remove barriers while shopping and make life easier, which includes the in-store experience. Just Walk Out (JWO) technology creates a frictionless environment that cuts down on time in-store and allows for better browsing, once consumers get over the mental gymnastics of walking out without the traditional checkout experience. Retailers beyond grocery and convenience should consider how cashierless checkout can be adopted across sectors to keep pace with consumer expectations.\r\n\r\nRemoving friction from the shopping experience — and specifically at checkout — has been a fundamental pillar in evolving physical retail in recent years. Enter the much-talked-about Just Walk Out (JWO) technology from Amazon, which combines computer vision, sensor fusion and machine-learning algorithms to offer consumers a purportedly seamless, cashierless shopping experience. In 2020, Amazon began selling its JWO technology platform to other retailers, and, in turn, the JWO experience is growing beyond Amazon Go, Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods locations into retailers in airports along with sports and entertainment arenas. \r\n\r\nUnlike the JWO experience at Amazon Go and Amazon Fresh locations (where consumers identify themselves by scanning an app), the licensed version has consumers insert a credit card into a gated turnstile.\r\nJWO Consumer Experience\r\n\r\nWith JWO technology growing, the question is: Does JWO solve traditional pain points for retailers and consumers or create new problems?\r\n\r\nIn a new report of checkout-less technologies, “No Wallet? No Problem: How Just-Walk-Out Technology is Shaping the Future of Retail,” Alvarez \u0026amp; Marsal Consumer Retail Group studied stores that had implemented JWO, and found that the technology:\r\n\r\n\r\n\tReduces the time it takes for consumers to check out of a store.\r\n\tOffers a “fresh” shopping experience to an aging and outdated brick-and-mortar model.\r\n\tProvides a new medium to personalized advertisements, promotion and shopping suggestions.\r\n\r\n\r\nStill, some unintended difficulties consumers incur with JWO include:\r\n\r\n\r\n\tFriction in entry and exiting due to difficulty in using the technology.\r\n\tOrder accuracy, especially for larger orders.\r\n\tSecurity and privacy concerns.\r\n\r\n\r\nTake for example, time-constrained travelers in an airport setting may be hesitant to even enter a retailer with JWO.\r\n\r\n“Given that this is new technology, the experience isn’t second-nature, so needing and wanting ample time is a huge component to adoption – particularly in an airport where time is more finite,” explains Conor Gaffney, associate in Alvarez \u0026amp; Marsal Consumer Retail Group. “The same barrier can be said for standard store formats as well, especially since today’s shopper values their time as a key indicator of the overall consumer experience.”\r\n\r\nAnother hesitation — albeit less obvious — is the collection of personal, financial and/or biometric information to gain access to these facilities. \r\n\r\n“Some consumers may pause at the idea of entering one of these camera/sensor-ridden facilities for the sole fact that the personal information may be stored by the retailer, while others may not feel obligated to jump through all those hoops if they are just looking to browse,” Gaffney says.\r\n\r\nJWO Benefits for Retailers\r\n\r\nWhile the industry is seeing JWO technology pop up predominately in convenience and grocery settings, it’s fairly versatile and could be applied in numerous settings, including fashion retailers. One of the key long-term benefits of JWO includes helping retailers reduce costs and achieve better margins. \r\n\r\nAs far as requiring a smaller workforce to reduce labor shortages, though, that benefit depends on the size and format of the retail location. For example, a convenience store might only need one employee to stock items, assist customers and check IDs. In large-format stores, staff may need to man the entryway to assist consumers entering the store with JWO technology in addition to the normal staff required. Generally speaking, employees in stores with JWO technology can be deployed more productively and focus on other key operational tasks.\r\n\r\n“Employees could spend more time assisting customers in-aisle, thereby improving the overall experience even more,” Gaffney says.\r\n\r\nWhile widespread data isn’t available on JWO technology’s accuracy rate, it\u0026#039;s fair to assume that this continues to be one of the key challenges for retailers implementing the technology. \r\n\r\n“We’ve come across similar scenarios in our own research, and it seems to be one of the key pain-points that retailers, and their technology partners, must address in order to win the consumer over going forward,” Gaffney explains.\r\n\r\nThe biggest barrier for retailers embracing JWO technology will be to persuade consumers, who are hesitant to transition to this new method of checkout, especially those who have already tried or been exposed to the payment method and experienced headwinds. \r\n\r\n\r\n“Retailers need to develop strong, succinct communication plans that market the benefits of the technology while swiftly identifying fixes to their most common pain-points,” Gaffney says. “In parallel, it’s critical for retailers to listen to the voice of the customer in real-time and have a plan in place to make those consumer-driven adjustments.”\r\n\r\n\r\nAdditionally, retailers must place a priority on the in-store technology experience. \r\n\r\n“Having dedicated responsibilities around registration and checkout to ensure customers are having a frictionless experience is essential,” Gaffney says.\r\nThe Future is Hand Waving\r\n\r\nIn the short-term, retailers will continue to nail down JWO technology fundamentals in order to win over the consumer and move toward more widespread adoption. \r\n\r\n“If they can do that, we see huge potential for this technology on a go-forward basis, especially as retailers try to freshen up what has become a continually tired brick-and-mortar model and appeal to a consumer base that continues to emphasize the value of convenience in their shopping experience,” Gaffney says.\r\n\r\nAdditionally, if scanning a credit card for entry is too tedious for consumers, Amazon continues to expand Amazon One, a biometric palm print scanner enabling payment in some retailers by waving a palm print over the device.\r\n\r\n“The key benefit that palm waving provides is an additional layer of convenience that mitigates the friction of registering your credit card during first entry into a store,” Gaffney says. “Signup takes just a minute or two, and the palm waving itself is quick and easy, similar to facial recognition on an iPhone. It’s likely we’ll see additional iterations of this technology get rolled out as retailers drill into more creative ways to improve the shopper experience.” \r\n\r\nAmazon has plans to roll out the biometrics beyond stores and into other settings as well, such as stadiums and office buildings, meaning individuals will have even more flexibility when it comes to their consumer experience beyond simply the grocery and convenience sectors. \r\n\r\n“This has a lot of similarities to Clear at airports, which can ultimately save a lot of time when used properly,” Gaffney says.