The End of the Line (Checkout line, that is)

The next big deal in payments is the end of the line. I mean that literally. Retailers are looking at ways to end the most grueling part of the retail experience: the checkout line.

Mobile devices may be a very big part of the answer: super-quick checkout is the goal.

There are several mobile ordering apps and payment apps that will speed the end of the line. For example, customers can order their food or merchandise in advance pay using numerous apps available for their mobile device. Now, it’s just a matter of walking into the store or restaurant and picking up your order at the counter.

We worked on a mobile food ordering app several years ago that let customers choose their favorite restaurant, order food from the menu, and pay with the card saved in their profile. The cool part was the app used GPS to track the customer, holding their food order in limbo until they were within a short distance of the restaurant. The app only then fired the order directly into the kitchen at the “last minute” – ensuring the customer’s food was piping-hot when they arrived to pick it up. (No more cold French fries, melted smoothies, wet Chinese noodles, or soggy onion rings – yuck!) We helped launch a similar app for sports stadiums that does the same function for food concessionaires.

NFC-tagged merchandise and customer phones will mean skipping the checkout line at the lumber yard, department store, or warehouse club store, with scanners recognizing the items loaded into the customers’ shopping carts, automatically charged to the mobile phones’ payment apps. Front door security will get the green light that everything is paid. No more waving a yellow highlighter pen across the receipt at the club store – I’ll miss that friendly guy with the yellow pen someday soon.