Stealing is the future of retail

I stole something from the Apple Store today.

Or rather, it felt a lot like stealing. I walked in, found what I wanted, opened the “Apple Store” app, scanned the barcode, and walked out. It seemed so much like stealing, I felt a little awkward leaving the store. Doesn’t someone want to check my receipt or something? I literally interacted with zero people and the entire process lasted no more than 3 minutes. It was exhilarating.

I’m the kind of guy who buys his toilet paper online. Online shopping offers huge household efficiency over retail, especially for consumables. When I want something right now though, or I’m not sure exactly what I need, there’s nothing better than heading to the nearest store.

But most stores just don’t get it. I don’t want to buy something. I just want to walk in, grab the item, and walk out. Standing in line, unloading my cart, dealing with a clunky Point of Sale device… These steps are all ancillary to my goal of get in and getting out.

Apple Pay and Google Wallet won’t ultimately be successful because they don’t offer any real benefits over ingrained consumer behavior. I have to take my phone out of my pocket, then open an app, then wave it over a sensor. I’ll just whip out my credit card and hand it to the cashier, thanks.

“Buying” should be something that happens as a byproduct of doing the thing I want. Scan everything in my cart with NFC, let me review the total on a display, cross a “buy” line to confirm, and finally, charge my credit card.

The checkout line is a relic of inefficiency created at a time when technology offered us nothing better. Tomorrow’s retail experience will feel a lot like stealing. And it’s going to be great fun!

 
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