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Retailer Magic Beans launches mobile self-checkout app

Children’s goods retailer Magic Beans is letting customers at its retail locations skip long lines and self-checkout via their mobile phones.

Magic Beans launched an iPhone application that expedites customer checkout by letting shoppers scan products’ UPC bar codes to find additional information and make purchases right from their phone. The application is powered by the AisleBuyer mobile self-checkout platform.

“Magic Beans is very-customer focused and sees the value in offering AisleBuyer as a convenient self-checkout choice for their customers,” said Chuck Ball, executive vice president and chief marketing officer at AisleBuyer, Cambridge, MA. “[Imagine] Saturday mornings, when parents are running off to birthday parties and need a gift, usually quickly.

“This technology will give customers that choice to pick out an item and checkout quickly, without waiting in line,” he said. “If you think about it, in that situation it is easy to predict that a parent would choose Magic Beans over a competitor if they knew in advance that they had that quick self-checkout ability.”

Brookline, MA-based Magic Beans sells baby gear and toys for children of all ages via its retail locations and ecommerce site.

Magic Beans is the first company to use AisleBuyer’s self-checkout platform.

AisleBuyer plans to extend its platform to Android.

How it works
Consumers can download Magic Bean’s iPhone application for free in Apple’s App Store.

The application includes five major features, each accessible from a navigation bar at the bottom of the screen.

Here is a screen grab of the application:

Shoppers can scan items as they shop to view product information and add the item to their virtual shopping cart.

The application will also suggest similar or complementary items that the customer may be interested in.

All items that consumers have selected to purchase can be viewed by clicking on the Cart tab at the bottom of the screen.

The virtual shopping cart will also tally up the total purchase cost and calculate the taxes incurred so that shoppers know exactly how much they will be spending.

Customers begin the check-out purchase by clicking on the button in the top-right corner of the shopping cart screen.

Here is a screen grab of the check-out page:

Once shoppers confirm the purchase, the application generates a receipt that they can find by clicking on the receipts tab.

Each receipt contains a unique verification code that is instantly processed and reflected in the store’s point-of-sale monitor.

Customers who have paid via mobile are instructed to show the receipt to a store clerk, who verifies the purchase on the monitor, finalizing the process.

Magic Beans is letting customers know about the application with in-store signage at registers, on shelves around the store and on windows.

The retailer is also sending out targeted email blasts to opted-in customers.

Self-checkout by the numbers
Retailers nationwide have integrated self-checkout into their sales system.

Stop & Shop even introduced a mobile device to selects stores last year that lets customers scan and bag items as they walk through the store’s aisles (see story), although that system does not extend to individuals’ mobile phones.

Still, 30 percent of consumers would like food retailers to supplement their in-store experiences with mobile, according to a Latitude study (see story).

AisleBuyer noticed some interesting trends in consumer behavior, as well.

“About 18 percent of all retail transactions were self-checkout, according to IHO Group,” Mr. Paradise said. “That accounted for $775 billion in self-service.

“Coupled with that, there are some pretty significant costs to roll out self checkout,” he said. “To install can range from $150,000-$500,000 per store, depending on the solution used.

“The huge benefit of AisleBuyer is they can get all that self checkout functionality without the cost of rolling all the hardware out.”

Additionally, 67 percent of shoppers abandoned a purchase last holiday season because of long lines or the lack of information about the product.

Eighty percent of those shoppers either never purchased the product or did so at a different retailer, accounting for 109 dollars of lost revenue per customer.

AisleBuyer developers looked to stem that lost revenue and reduce overhead costs associated with traditional self-checkout kiosks, while providing a better experience for customers.

“We look at mobile as the ability to bridge ecommerce and in-store shopping for the first time,” Mr. Paradise said. “What it’s really allowing is cross-channel shopping options for retailers.

“Retailers can provide consumers with a united world of information from online combined with the tactile experience and immediacy of offline,” he said.

Final Take
Peter Finocchiaro, editorial assistant at Mobile Commerce Daily