Ricker's, an Indiana-based oil company that also operates 58 convenience stores in the same state, is working with Skip, provider of a mobile checkout app, to develop what the companies describe as a "hybrid" of mobile payment and Amazon Go-like shopper experience in Ricker's locations, according to a press release.
Skip said in the press release that its technology reduces the length of in-store checkout from an average of 60 seconds to an instant, customer-controlled pay-and-go action controlled by the customer. The company also claims the system lowers transaction fees for its retailer partners through a partnership with payments processor Zipline.
The companies are working on optimizing the mobile checkout experience, including integrations with Zipline and Ricker's Kickback Rewards loyalty program, and are planning to make it available across all Ricker's locations by the end of next month.
With Amazon Go aiming to redefine convenience store checkout as a frictionless, cashierless experience, retailers, grocery chains and other operators of convenience store chains are all looking to create their own instant mobile checkout experiences. Of those other groups, convenience store operators may be under the most pressure, as Amazon Go is a direct competitive challenge to their traditional checkout processes, and their claims to offering convenience
That means any companies not named Amazon need to quickly come up with a plan — either to develop their own technology or find a reliable technology partner. Skip is one of several technology companies that have jumped at the opportunity to become the latter. The firm has been around for a few years, and has worked with Associated Food Stores and other grocery retailers. Most recently, Skip made news last month when it proclaimed it was making its technology available to retailers as a "free open platform." In a statement emailed to Retail Dive, the company said it could not share details regarding its revenue model just yet, although it's had subscription and transaction fee models in the past.
Skip and other providers of mobile checkout — or "just walk out" technology — will need to prove pretty quickly that they can support accurate and efficient frictionless checkout for retailers, grocery stores and convenience operators with dozens or even hundreds of locations. Even as the mere prospect of Amazon Go is shaking up the sector, Amazon is taking its time, gradually expanding into just a handful of new markets this year, and concentrating only one or two locations at a time in those markets.
In any case, the partnership between Ricker's and Skip shows that mobile checkout isn't just for the Amazons, Walmarts and Krogers of the world. If smaller companies can effectively leverage Scan & Go-style technologies, perhaps they can even keep those customers from visiting Amazon Go whenever the e-commerce giant gets around to entering their markets.