Shell Checks Out IBM’s Instant Register

The trial of an immediate RFID checkout solution took place in London.
January 26, 2018

LONDON – Shell is the first retailer to trial a new RFID instant checkout solution from IBM, Essential Retailing reports. IBM would like the self-service checkout program to compete with Amazon Go, which opened on Monday in Seattle.

Shell is conducting a six-week trial at its Holloway Road station before evaluating the technology ahead of more trials in a few months. The self-service checkout has been modified to allow customers to place the items on the machine for tallying by RFID sensors rather than scanning individual items. Customers pay via their Bluetooth-enabled mobile device by tapping it against a reader, then following instructions on an app.

“I think it’s quite a big improvement from the traditional self-checkout,” said Janine Albrecht, general manager of digital and technical marketing integration for Shell. She added that the customers using the RFID checkout found it fast, easy and customer friendly.

Albrecht told Essential Retailing that working with IBM on refining this solution is an important part of Shell’s overall customer service. “It would also be about ensuring those people who drive past the station and see several heads queuing, instead of going to the next store, actually stop,” she said. “I think it will have a knock-on effect overall on customer experience and a critical ambition is for us to treat every customer like a guest at every site on every visit.”

Several U.S. retailers are also evaluating self-checkout technology to see if consumers can see a value in skipping the cashier.

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