With the unveiling of the AmazonGo store in 2018, the idea of making the in-store experiences as frictionless and possible has spread. But will the removal of too much friction at checkout cause problems?
How Does a Cashierless Store Work?
From the customer's perspective, they put things in their cart, walk out, then their account gets billed. It seems simple, but there is a large amount of technology working behind the scenes to make it possible.
Let's take AmazonGo's process as an example. To enter the store, customers scan a QR code that is connected to their Amazon account. Customers can then fill up their bags with items, without having to scan anything. With a combination of AI, computer vision, and data that's pulled from multiple sensors, they can track the customer around the store and create a list of what they are purchasing. The customer walks out of the store, their Amazon account is charged, and a receipt for the items they bought is sent.
More competitors are starting to emerge with their own systems. While this new technology sounds promising for merchants and customers alike, it may put merchants at risk for disputes.
How Can Cashierless Checkout Cause Disputes?
New Technology Means Bugs
As with any new and emerging technology, there are bound to be bugs in the system. Let's say that the customer picks up an item, puts it back on the shelf, then actually decides to purchase it and puts it in the cart. For some reason, the system counts it as two items. The customer notices the duplicate charge when they get home. Instead of reaching out to the merchant to fix the issue, they just reach out to their issuing bank instead. While most merchants will be happy to refund the customer if they get something wrong, it can be just as easy for a customer to reach out to their bank as it is to talk to the merchant.
While Amazon may have all the bugs worked out in their cashierless store, competitors are years behind them with the technology and development which makes room for error.
Lack of Person-to-Person Interactions
While you are watching the cashier scan your merchandise, have you ever seen a price go by that made you say, "Wait, how much was that? Yeah, actually, can we hold off on that item." Customers that are confused about the price or an item can immediately resolve the issue with a cashier. With a cashierless experience, if a customer has a regret or doesn't want an item, it now has to be handled after the transaction is completed.
How Cashierless Merchant Can Prevent Disputes
Merchants that offer cashierless checkout experiences can easily avoid these disputes by providing excellent customer service that is easy to reach. AmazonGo is currently in a great position to have cardholders reach out to their customer service instead of the issuing bank to straighten out an issue. Their customer service has a reputation for being helpful and giving “no questions asked” refunds. For other merchants that are looking to implement a similar cashierless environment, it will be important to communicate with the customers that if they have any problems, your customer service will be happy to refund or fix any mistakes. As well as making it accessible by putting the phone number, email, or links to customer service chat at the bottom of the emailed receipts or anywhere else the customer may look.
As long as cashierless store can make their systems are as accurate as possible and have easy to reach customer service, they should not see an increase in disputes.