AisleBuyer, a startup that’s looking to help do away with the tedious checkout lines seen in most retailers, has raised a $7.5 million round of Series E funding. Leading the round is Old Willow Partners, LLC (which led AisleBuyer’s first round of funding last year). The Boston-based company has now raised a total of $11.5 million (they raised $4 million in November 2010).
AisleBuyer — as its name suggests — lets shoppers purchase goods in a store without having to wait in a checkout line, or even for one of those self-service machines. Instead, shoppers scan their items using a mobile smartphone application (currently available for iOS, Android, and BlackBerry), then pay for them directly from their phones. Previously you’d have to manually enter your credit card information, but now the app will let you actually take a photo of the credit card to enter your information using OCR. And because it facilitates in-store payments, the app competes with Square and other similar services.
But AisleBuyer isn’t just about the checkout process itself — the application also offers a suite of other features. While you’re browsing store shelves, you can use the barcode scanner to look up product reviews left by other customers (you can also post questions to social media channels like Twitter or Facebook). If you find something you like but it isn’t in stock (or you want a different flavor, or size, or whatever) the app will often let you order directly from the store’s website. You can do combination transactions, where you pay for items you’re purchasing in the store and items in the online store in one fell swoop.
The service also offers a variety of features for the stores themselves. Retailers can look at analytics (they can see if people are scanning a given product but then choose not to purchase it) and also benefit from the fact that shoppers are directed to their online stores, rather than a competitor, when something runs out of stock.
Obviously these kinds of apps are going to be battling against decades of habit, which isn’t going to be trivial. Then again, I’m sure people would be more than willing to try out a new smartphone app if it meant skipping the checkout line entirely.