I usually don't mind waiting a few extra minutes in line. Whenever I'm waiting to get my morning coffee, though, each minute is practically an eternity. Even with all of today's available technology, we still have to get in line to check out at the local supermarket, department store, or gas station. Why do we have to queue up when the checkout process itself is so convenient? Once I get to the Point of Sale, I can simply wave my phone or credit card over the terminal to complete the transaction in a matter of seconds. We should be past the point where we still have to queue up to make a purchase. There has to be a better way.
Of course, people are currently hard at work trying to solve this problem. There are plenty of other options that are available to us right now. We already have the ability to order a pizza and have it delivered to our door within 20 minutes. We can buy a wide range of products on Amazon and have them delivered the same day with Amazon Prime. These transactions take place online without us ever having the need to line up or even step foot outside of the house.
Hurdles for Brick & Mortar Stores
Because brick and mortar businesses use the traditional card payments network, customers must go to a terminal to authenticate themselves. It could be by entering a PIN, using a card with a chip, or using a phone with secure credentials. This poses an interesting overlap—all these precautionary security features are in place when someone pays at the store. Online payments, on the other hand, only require customers to enter their credit card number. Fraud detection/prevention is handled by validating the customer's shipping address.
Someone will eventually work out ways to get past these security hassles and make the in-store experience as seamless as an online purchase. In fact, I'm already starting to see some solutions being implemented at the coffee shop I frequent. Customers can order and pay for their coffee without ever having to wait in line. You can just walk in, pick up your coffee from the counter, and walk right out while skipping the line altogether. The entire experience is easy and convenient. It simply requires setting up an account using your phone, that way the store knows who you are. You're essentially paying with a gift card that's loaded up with funds.
The Days of the Checkout Line are Numbered
Just like the coffee shop app, there will be a continual push to make the in-person payment experience easier and more convenient. Right now we can order supermarket goods from home, but there will be ways to make everything we do at brick and mortar stores a bit easier. I think that physical checkouts with a terminalwhere you have to swipe your card may not be around in five to ten years' time.
A big advantage of the traditional card network is that it works practically everywhere. The technology to do away with queues already exists, but we just need to see widespread acceptance across major retailers. If there's a more convenient solution that does away with lines and works everywhere, I think it's just a matter of time before everyone decides to jump on it.