Is cashierless
the future
of shopping?

Author: Nick Reese

Over the past few years, many retailers have struggled with labor shortages—retail was one of the industries with the highest percentage of unfilled job openings. As it becomes harder and harder to find and retain employees, managers face the possibility of understaffed checkout areas, creating long lines and frustrated shoppers.

With cashierless checkout, those concerns could potentially become a thing of the past. The day may come when anyone can walk into any store, grab what they need and walk out, with no cashier interaction required. For some shoppers, that future is already here. Here's what you need to know to prepare.

What is cashierless checkout?

Cashierless checkout is an autonomous checkout and inventory management system. It uses machine learning, computer vision, cameras and sensors to detect the products customers' put in their basket and charges their scanned credit card or mobile app payment account when they're done shopping, all without the need to line up at the checkout or interact with a traditional cashier.

How does cashierless checkout work?

A shopper enters your store and checks in using a credit card, a smartphone app, or biometrics if the customer has opted-in for use of biometrics for that purpose. As they add products to their basket, the computer vision system uses cameras and sensors placed throughout the store to track all their interactions. Machine learning algorithms ensure the shoppers are charged accurately and aren't charged for items they interacted with but didn't take.

Once they have everything they need, shoppers can just exit the store. The autonomous checkout system ensures the items are billed to their credit card or payment account and a digital receipt is sent to their inbox.

What are the benefits of cashierless checkout?

Cashierless checkout offers several benefits for retailers, customers and employees.


Trials of Verizon's 5G Edge Cashierless Checkout created new revenue streams for retailers, with one achieving the following benefits:

  • 78% increase in transaction count1
  • 80% increase in basket size1
  • 50% reduction in customer transaction time1
  • 139% increase in revenue1

The checkout area in a traditional store layout can take up valuable, non-revenue-generating space near the exit, which is the last chance to make a sale. Instead of using this space for impulse items like candy and magazines, retailers that embrace cashierless checkout can leverage this valuable real estate to feature their bestselling or higher-profit margin items, to help drive sales efficiency and profit margins.

With each shopper that enters the store matched to a credit card or other payment method, retailers could see their shrinkage metrics decline, since cashierless checkout technology has been "deemed to be more than 99% accurate and theft-free," per an article in the Progressive Grocer.

Retailers could also redeploy staff to other value-added tasks such as improving the customer experience. Alternatively, cashierless checkout opens up the option to explore locations or opening hours where stores may not require staff at all, such as 24/7 convenience stores in hotels or at gas stations. The technology can also help retailers enter new markets or experiment with different types of locations that a traditional checkout process may inhibit, such as pop-up locations.


The benefit of an autonomous checkout system for customers is simple: No more waiting in line. For a busy person who just needs to grab a few items, the idea of waiting in line to check out is often reason enough to skip going to the store altogether. In fact, according to the National Retail Federation, 97% of shoppers say they've backed out of a purchase because it was inconvenient to them,2 while 83% say convenience while shopping is more important now than in the past.3

Where is cashierless checkout being used?

Autonomous checkout technology is relatively new and not yet commonplace. When most people think of cashierless checkout, they likely think of Amazon, whose stores are powered by its Just Walk Out technology. Amazon has more than 40 Amazon Fresh and 20 Amazon Go locations across the country, along with pilot projects at Whole Foods Markets, making it one of the highest-profile users of autonomous checkout technology.

However, other retailers are catching up. For example, WHSmith offers checkout-free shopping at its bookstore in LaGuardia Airport. And concession stands at stadiums like Seattle's Lumen Field and Climate Pledge Arena let fans grab food and beverages without waiting in line.

The retail industry and consumers are both embracing the technology—one survey found that 57% of respondents would be excited for an artificial intelligence-enabled store like Amazon Go to open in their neighborhood.

As part of its 2022 Retail Industry Outlook, Deloitte surveyed executives from retailers it considered to be leaders in the industry. A majority (55%) believe staff-free, cashierless stores will be common in the next five years.4

What technology does cashierless checkout require?

Autonomous checkout leverages almost all of the most significant technology trends of the past decade: 5G, cloud, the Internet of Things, machine learning and big data analytics.

On the hardware side, stores need cameras or weighted shelf systems and wireless IoT sensors capable of tracking shopping activity across every inch of the store. In addition, the store requires an entry and exit system that ensures customers scan their payment information on the way in and are accurately charged on the way out.

On the software side, retailers need a specialized platform designed to process at the edge the vast amount of data computer vision and machine learning generate and process. The platform also needs to be able to integrate into point-of-sale, inventory and financial reporting systems. Finally, retailers need the right connectivity to support the data communications to help ensure a satisfying consumer experiences.

Enterprise Intelligence and the future of shopping

While adding cashierless checkout capabilities may sound daunting, you don't have to do it on your own. Verizon's 5G Edge Cashierless Checkout solution can help you enable seamless shopping by providing the expertise, software and network you need to transform your retail experience.

Verizon can help you build the Enterprise Intelligence and network that can help you make smarter and gain a competitive advantage. With the right systems and solutions in place, retailers can adapt in near real time and respond with agility.

Read more how Enterprise Intelligence can help power the smart retail store of the future.

The author of this content is a paid contributor for Verizon.

1 Based on Verizon Ford Field point-of-contact (POC) trials.

2 National Retail Federation, Convenience and the Consumer, page 3.

3 National Retail Federation, Convenience and the Consumer, page 4.

4 Deloitte, 2022 Retail Industry Outlook, page 11.