Goodbye, checkout lines: QThru launches app to make shopping easier

QThru puts a new spin on the self-checkout kiosks at grocery stores and today the Seattle startup launched its mobile app.

Available on both iOS and Android, the app is a mobile shopping platform that is intended to make in-store shopping more convenient by allowing people to shop, scan, get deals, and then checkout with a smartphone app.

We wrote about QThru back in July when the company landed $3.5 million from undisclosed angel investors. Here’s the basic idea (video above shows this as well).

Customers download the app and preload their credit card information. They then add items to their shopping cart, scanning a bar code each time they pick out an item. After they complete the shopping trip, they check out by entering a passcode and scanning a QR code at a kiosk machine. A receipt is generated from the kiosk, and a supermarket employee checks it to make sure items match before sending the shopper on his or her way.

“Many brick and mortar retailers are recognizing their customers want a fast and easy shopping experience that makes them feel valued,” Aaron Roberts, founder and CEO of QThru, said in a press release. “With QThru shoppers are empowered to select and purchase items in-store, right from their smartphones – further strengthening their allegiance to retailers.”

The checkout terminal at The Ridge Supermarket

QThru completed a successful beta test at the Ridge IGA Supermarket in Snoqualmie and is now planning to bring the service to 14 grocery and retail stores in the Seattle area by the end of March 2013.

Roberts, who was previously a senior software development manager with RIM, said he came up with the idea a few years ago while standing in line to buy a pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving dinner.

“There was a line for the pumpkin pies, and there was a line to checkout,” recalled Roberts. “While I was waiting I said: ‘Gosh, this process doesn’t need to be this painful.’ It seemed like a no-brainer to me.”

After spending some time buying jeans with my Android phone, I wonder if one day we’ll use our smartphones to buy, well, everything.

Previously on GeekWire: Amazon vet’s new robot-powered apparel startup aims to revolutionize how we buy clothes

  • http://frugalmechanic.com/ Eric Peters

    Seems like you exchange one bottleneck for the other, Costco still has bottlenecks waiting for people to check your receipt. Isn’t this just a high-tech version of the Self-Checkout systems found at QFC? At least the QFC ones might be accessible to more grandmas?

  • Capt. Crunch

    Why not just use NFC to pay, it’s easier and more high tech than scanning a barcode

    • aaron

      Hey Capt., we’ll support NFC in the coming months as well at our stations. NFC as it stands now still forces you to wait in line.

      • guest

        Technically, if you had NFC tags at the shelf, where a “tap” took place, that would probably be 3x -10x faster than a Consumer taking down the package, maneuvering their phone for a QR scan, putting everything in place and moving to the next item.

        The emergence of NFC dongles (some will be very low cost in early Q1 2013 makes this possible to use on all smartphones.

        But, the real value is speed and the lack of focused attention NFC requires.

        Currently, grocery aisles are often painful places to get through quickly. People on their phones talking. People reading labels. People with children and mini-carts terrorizing everyone. If each purchase requires an additional :15 seconds of in-aisle consumer time, it’s only going to make shopping that much more painful. At least with a 2-3 second NFC tap, a new bottleneck wouldn’t be created?

  • Tammi L. Coles

    The video was all wrong for this. The voice didn’t create the “feel good” vibe one would expect. And good luck in scanning your fruit and veg purchases. And the “users” came off as fake. “I love this app because it helps me get back to work work work.” Not to my family. Not to hobbies I love. Back to W O R K.

    They seemed like stressy jerks. Certainly no one I’d one to identify with.

    • aaron

      Hi Tammi. We do support fruits and veggies, and bulk items too with a special scale. Noted on the video.

  • Amal Graafstra

    Uhh, did you shoot this video -after- landing $3.5m?! You’d think some of that money could have gone to paying a decent voice talent, and maybe paying a store to camp out all day and hunt down and spring yourself on some real life customers instead of obvious company employees reading scripts.

  • http://twitter.com/fpaterra Frank Paterra

    Congrats QThru team!