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It seems that grocery chains are becoming more aware of the potential threats of alternative sales channels.

With manufacturers and brands going directly to consumers and the steadily growing, albeit slowing, e-commerce market share growth, physical retailers have to start looking for new ways to augment their current store offerings.

Breaking down the shopping process into four stages, traditional retailers are now asking themselves, "How can I start removing friction?".

The Checkout Revolution

Amazon's "just-walk-out" technology seems to be the industry benchmark for speed of checkout but when it comes to experiential shopping, Alibaba's Hema stores have a commanding lead.

Even traditional players such as Sam Clubs are hopping onto the bandwagon hoping to catch up. Although at this point it remains unclear how soon the technology will be available for use outside the Dallas store.

As a consumer, you must be thinking WOW, these companies really do care about shaving 10-60 secs off for my benefit.

It isn't JUST about the checkout

Although some of these companies may be well-intentioned, what they don't publicise is how much data they are collecting whenever you use these services.

A commonality between all the retail giants is that they all depend on your smartphone.

That is the proxy used to identify individual shoppers and their transaction history. They know about your taste and habits and even why you are returning to the store. They can better tailor products and merchandise on the shelf based on the general demographics entering their stores. They can better price their good depending on how price sensitive their shoppers are (a proxy could be their smartphone model).

Its not about the checkout. Its about using it as an excuse to paint a full picture about you.