Saturn Express – don’t let scan, pay and leave be the objective, encourage customers to stay a while

Saturn Express – don’t let scan, pay and leave be the objective, encourage customers to stay a while

“Saturn Express fronts a new shopping concept designed to assist consumers in an increasingly digital world," declares Martin Wild, Chief Innovation Officer of the Media MarktSaturn Retail Group.

"Our Scan, Pay and Leave technology brings the best of the online checkout experience to the physical store."

The new Saturn Express located at the Sillpark Shopping Centre in Innsbruck is the first of its kind. At least that’s what the press release says and who am I to argue. 

Sillpark is an unexpectedly smart shopping centre near the mainline train station in Innsbruck. The anchor store is an impressive InterSpar, flanked by C&A, Primark and McCafe.

On the second floor is a small format Saturn Express, with a short retail offer, focused on headphones, storage, sounds boxes and accessories.

Looking in, there is nothing obvious to mark it out as different but on closer inspection it is unique in Europe, there are no cash tills. 

Inside the lighting is bright and harsh and the product displays are standard. 

The prominent brand message is about “saving time” and offering customers “more advantage” the key consumer benefit of shopping without cash tills.

As anticipated the benefits are all rational, there is nothing in the proposition targeting emotional triggers. Well hardly anything, sleeping at the back of the store a selfie generator posts to social media or email, frivolous and indulgent and detached from the rest of the offer. But I’m really glad it is there. 

I was greeted by friendly security looming large at the entrance, keeping an eye shoppers as they move through the store. I head to the visible staff member who was engaging and engaged by the new venture describing it as an opportunity to test a new concept with the general public. He was apologetic about the short range but enthusiastic about the App and ease of shop. So much so he kindly took over and walked me, step by step through the process.  We connected to in-store branded Wi Fi downloaded the Saturn Express APP and linked it to my credit card easily, without fuss. 

Thereafter APP driven tasks take over, QR code scanning, product confirmation and simple one click purchase. 

A receipt is generated immediately and emailed to my smart phone, within seconds product and shopper are one, no need for queuing  or time wasting. 

I asked for a carrier bag, hoping for the equivalent of the Amazon go sac to add to my collection but they only had reinforced capacious bags, maybe to carry first generation personal computers, and nothing appropriate for the smaller SKU’s on sale in-store

The proposition is about giving shoppers the opportunity to do more with their time, one poster read “You can do more, faster.” That in itself is good but I think they should make more of the technology and the innovation. 

The dollar question is why shop there, the trite answer is it saves time, it’s convenient. The reality is consumer electronics is also about creativity and expression. In my mind there should be more storytelling, this store represents a breakthrough in bricks and mortar retailing, so show and tell. 

I appreciate this is a quiet launch, a research exercise and no doubt the next generation will be more engaging but if we don’t look to the opportunity for theatre or entertainment now then advances in retail operations risk getting lost in the delivery. 

Encouraging customers to scan, pay and leave results in an efficient, semi- automated store experience in step with online checkout but at risk of being dull and uninteresting, as always in-store experience counts. 





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