While there is now a wide range of types of SCO technology available, there are essentially three main forms:
Fixed self-scan machines or robots: this is where the consumer brings their chosen products to a fixed point in the store and proceeds to scan them either using the barcodes present on the items or by choosing the item type from a list of possible options provided by the machine displayed on an interactive screen. The consumer can then pay for their items either with cash or by some form of payment card.
Scan and Go Systems: this is where the consumer is provided with a ‘scan device by the retailer which can be used while shopping to scan the barcodes of items they wish to purchase. At the end of the shopping journey, the user is then required to go to a fixed point and dock their scan device in a terminal, which then processes the transaction and takes payment from the consumer.
Mobile Scan and Go Systems: the third main variant in use now, and one that has only recently begun to be offered by retailers, is similar to the Scan and Go system described above except that instead of using a scan device provided by the retailer, the consumer uses their own mobile device, utilising a bespoke App provided by the retailer (or a third party), and the camera functionality built into the device, to scan and record products they wish to purchase. This also provides the option for the consumer to pay for their items anywhere in the store via their mobile device.
Other forms of SCO technologies are available, with new approaches being developed all the time, including the use of RFID. More recently the Amazon Go system, which was unveiled towards the end of 2016 in their Seattle Headquarters store in the US, uses a network of cameras, sensors and weight pads to enable a consumer to pick up any items and exit the store without any need for barcode scanning or interaction with a payment system. The prospective consumer needs to be registered with Amazon and to have downloaded a bespoke App before entering the store. Upon arrival, the user has to scan a unique code generated by the App on their mobile device to gain access to the store, and then they are free to select items and then simply leave the store, receiving an electronic receipt within 20 minutes. A number of other companies are also beginning to offer technologies similar to this approach