2 thoughts on “Payment friction: why is there a queue at the checkout, but not at the shelves?

  1. Came across your site through Tagsurf. Offhand – I could think of:

    1) At the shelves, you take one (or a few) items at a time. At the checkout, you may have fifty.

    2) There are many more shelves (or space around shelves) vs check out.

    3) Taking items from a shelf is a dispersed, quasi-random activity. Checking-out is channeling all those random people through a pipe.

    4) At checkout, you need to lift stuff out, scan, pack, pay. At shelves, you can just dump it in your basket.

  2. Wow, thanks. I ask a silly question and get a well-thought-out answer in return :)
    I guess what prompted that post was the thought that sometimes the inconvenience of paying far outweighs the financial cost, like the free newspaper example, where I wouldn’t have minded paying 20p, but wouldn’t bother if it slowed down my entry into the train station.
    If technology allows us to pay for stuff effortlessly, what will that do to existing retail business models?

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