Zara self-service checkouts: Yes, you heard me correctly

Updated: Dec 2, 2019

Self-service checkouts are no longer just for your grocery shop... Zara enhances their retail customers experience allowing customers to shop and go using its latest tech installation.

Source: Westfield

It's not just Apple that are leveraging a seamless physical retail experience, fashion consumers at the UK's leading fast fashion retailer Zara can now make purchases using one of the retailers self-service checkouts. Upon arrival at Zara's Oxford street store I witness something that I have become rather accustomed to: a lengthy queue of customers waiting at the till. However, what is more unusual, is the bank of self-service checkouts I spot which are... completely empty. Spotting an opportunity to complete my purchase in record breaking-time (for a Saturday afternoon in central London), I slip away from said queue to de-tag, swipe and bag my items all in the space of two tminutes. Never has a Zara experience been more joyous. And, what's rather exciting, is there is no scanning required - the checkout senses the products through RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) and you simply remove the security tags as you complete payment.

Creating a seamless experience

As a seasoned Zara shopper I can confidently attest to the trials and tribulations of shopping in Zara. From not being able to return online purchases to store (thankfully that's all fixed now) to the 40 minute wait for the fitting room to try on that hero item of the season. All-in-all this makes for a rather frustrating shopping encounter. From a consumer decision making perspective it's about avoiding these glitches in the omnichannel customer journey, removing points of hesitation that may ultimately influence our decision making of to buy or not to buy. Those times where we have given up on a purchase because of the long till queue - now swiftly removed.

Tech on the high street

Zara's investment of technology into the physical retail space is designed to overcome the challenges we most commonly associate with shopping for clothing. Sadly, the self-service system isn't quite as sophisticated as I hoped - as no returns are accepted. Returns are still a key frustration for fashion shoppers and the store experience is somewhat archaic. Technology one of the fundamentals factors that will shape the fate of the fashion high street. Physical retailers both large and small need to be leveraging tech further to make physical retail exciting, experiential and also, efficient. While such tech advancements are welcomed - there's still a long road ahead and fellow retailers should not ignore such implementations by Zara.

Dr Sam Lynch - is a researcher in retail consumer decision-making. You can find out more by visiting the homepage or reach out via twitter @drsamlynch

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