Walk out stores are a natural progression of the retail sector, but technology investment is required

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Walk out stores are a natural progression of the changes we’ve already seen in retail. Stores have moved from all staffed tills to self-checkouts, and more recently, scan on the go. Considering the stages of this evolution so far, it’s clear that ‘just walk out’ will be the future.

With Tesco opening its first checkout-free store later today,  it seems the transition to ‘just walk out’ models is being led by the Big 4. This is not surprising, given their ability to make significant technology investments, and sheer store format size and overall product density on the shelves. However, this model is far more suited to the high street convenience stores owned by the Big 4, rather than their large super stores.

For now, the main clientele continues to be curious shoppers and tourists. The overall economics of store operations are still in question, given the reduced product range, high rental costs, and significant technology investments required. ‘Just walk out’ will likely remain in a trial period for the next few years, before we start to see mass rollouts. Beyond technology, leaders will be paying close attention to store profitability before putting money behind this innovation.