Retailers are increasingly leveraging the power of the Internet of Everything (IoE) to transform traditional brick-and-mortar stores into a high-octane digital experience.

From advanced data analytics that monitor customer demand in real-time to pervasive video and cloud technologies that enable shelves to sense, customers and retailers are becoming closer than ever before.

However, there is much room for progress. Long lines remain a pain point for shoppers. Nearly 40 percent of smartphone-carrying shoppers abandon their in-store purchases due to long lines and another 21 percent will bail on buying if there are no registers open, according to a recent survey by AisleBuyer, an in-store mobile commerce provider.

As retailers work to embrace technology solutions to reach and retain customers, will we see a day where the long checkout line is non-existent? Will the Last Checkout Line ever become a reality?

Recently, I had the chance to participate in a new Future of IT podcast episode with Leslie Hand, Vice President of IDC Retail Insights, where we discussed how the retail landscape is evolving.

Specifically, we explored how today’s Internet of Everything-led solutions are eliminating the need for checkout lines based on the following key innovations:

1. The convergence of sensing technologies and real-time analytics will reveal insights about customer behavior and preference.

As the Internet of Everything brings together more people, process, data and things, the retail industry is ripe for capturing the value of networked connections.

Today, retailers can use sensing technologies to understand how a customer moves around the store. By coupling this technology with video analytics, retailers can better predict what the customers need and when they need it without being intrusive, and also predict when more registers will need to be open to reduce the time spent waiting in line. It won’t be very long before a retailer can use this technology to sense when a customer is rushing madly into the store, and provide a fast track checkout capability.

2. The growth of mobile payment offerings and scan-and-go technology to enhance the shopping experience.

In the U.S., Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is testing a new scan-and-go system in which customers use the Wal-Mart iPhone app to scan the bar code of the items they want to buy and bag them as they shop. When they get to a self-checkout lane, customers hold their iPhone up to the self-checkout screen, which wirelessly receives the scanned items and prompts them to pay.

I’m a great fan of scan-and-go technology and retailer-provided devices. By integrating payment capabilities, this technology can go a long way to making the last checkout line a reality.

3. The automation of processes can ease the cost to retailers, thereby increasing profit margins.

We are several years away from eliminating checkout lines for good – due in large part to the challenges retailers face as they balance embracing tech solutions and meeting customer demand.

However, it’s important to emphasize that deploying Internet of Everything-enabled solutions, such as analytics and sensing technology, can provide new ways of automating processes. This in turn, can create new business models and ultimately, new ways to increase revenue.

For more insights about how we can make the last checkout line possible, listen to the new Future of IT podcast episode with IDC’s Leslie Hand. It’s available for free download on iTunes.

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Lisa Fretwell

Senior Director

Internet Business Solutions Group (IBSG)