Monday , 24 September 2018
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Why smart stores don’t check out

Cash registers are dumb. Why do we still have them?

Invented in 1879 to keep saloon employees from stealing, the cash register combines the functions of a calculator to add up the purchases and a lockbox to keep cash safe.

It assumes that retail employees have no verifiable way to add up numbers. And it assumes customers are paying in cash. Nowadays, most people have a smartphone and pay electronically. So the assumptions are gone. Yet cash registers remain.

The success of online retail demonstrates that you don’t need a Victorian-era contraption to sell things. You can do it all electronically.

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