How retail innovation is helping mitigate the Covid-19 threat

Felicity Mullens

Supermarkets across the world have asked customers to physically change the way they shop as they implement increasingly stringent health policies. This became even more pressing as panic buying saw our supermarkets inundated with crowds of customers.

Retailers have since been implementing their own form of social distancing and hygiene measures to help limit the spread of Covid-19. With some stores taking precautions like marking spots for shoppers to stand when waiting in line for the checkout, others limit the number of customers allowed in a store at one time. Retailers including Walmart and Kroger in the US, and Woolworths in Australia have started to install plexiglass partitions between the customer and cashier.

Innovative tech is changing the game

These measures are effective in helping limit contact between customers and supermarket cashiers but what is more effective in stopping the spread, is adopting retail technologies that will in the long run, offer a more convenient and hygienic way to shop where customers can avoid grouping in checkout queues altogether.

Tiliter technology mitigating covid-19

If we think about what we handle and come into contact with during a grocery run — cardboard packaging, fresh produce, handles, trolleys and shopping baskets. This contact is unavoidable for the most part however, limiting interactions and contact with a cashier or a self-service checkout (SCO) is possible with walk out solutions like scan and go and smart product recognition. A checkout method gaining popularity with Fairways Markets reporting 20-30% of transactions in their Manhattan stores, facilitated by mobile scan and go technology.

The scan and go solution sees customers use an app on their phone to scan through items and bag them immediately. Customers no longer need to unpack them again at a checkout or have a cashier handle their items. This also means no queues, with payment facilitated via your card details registered on the app.

Tiliter Scan&Go automatically identifies items without barcodes

Tiliter Scan&Go product recognition scales work with scan and go to offer customers a quick and hygienic way to add non-barcoded items like loose fresh produce to a digital cart. You simply place your loose fresh produce item, a Hass Avocado  for example onto the scale and let the system identify and weight it. Then scan the barcode generated on the display screen to add to your cart. It is accurate, quick and contactless with only the products you have chosen handled.

Other products like mixed nuts, dried fruit, candy and bakery items in bags can also be identified easily, shrinking opportunities for customers to interact with a cashier or self-service checkout.

Tiliter Scan&Go Scales integrate seamlessly with scan and go app providers

Limiting customer touch points

Computer vision and machine learning at the self-service checkout (SCO) also sees benefits to public health. We found that, on average, shoppers using the conventional SCO needed 54s and 16 touches, whereas shoppers using the SCO equipped with Tiliter Vision needed 31s and 6 touches. Shoppers using Tiliter Vision needed 21.6s (42% less time) and 10 touches (63 less touches) to checkout their items.

Smart product recognition of non-barcoded items for scan and go solutions can potentially help public health and safety as it:

  • Shortens time spent in store by instantly recognising products so you don’t have to
  • Drastically reduces customer interaction with a self-service checkout menu with significantly lower number of touches on a screen when putting through loose fresh produce
  • Allows for customers to maintain social distance by negating the need for queues altogether

With Covid-19 affecting our day to day activities and reports that normal life will be disrupted for the foreseeable 6-12 months, now is the time to encourage the deployment of smart retail solutions. Technology is now more than ever helping us stay connected and keep our social distance during these difficult times. Shoppers should soon start to see further technological efforts by retailers to ensure the health and safety of its patrons.

To find out how you can use innovative tech to keep your customers safer, visit


Felicity is Tiliter’s Marketing Specialist. She has a background in Media and digital Marketing and is a self-confessed lover of all things retail.

Felicity is Tiliter’s Marketing Specialist. She has a background in Media and digital Marketing and is a self-confessed lover of all things retail.

Felicity Mullens

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