Retailers are always finding ways to leverage technology in order to improve customer experience and, obviously, perform better. With consumers being increasingly time-starved, digitally enabled, less loyal and have a desire for control. These characteristics seem to make the introduction of self-checkout in convenience stores a benefit to customers.
Benefit of self-checkout technology
Retailers take advantage from the reduction or redeployment of labour force, the reduction of team member turnover, an increase in productivity, sales and revenue as well as a reduction of shrinkage (where 42% is caused by staff).
Customers can win from such a technology because it reduces the time spent in queues; it allows options to complete shopping quickly, provides them with much needed control, gives them privacy and thus, enhances the overall customer experience.
Employees can benefit from these checkout technological advancements by changing their normal roles in grasping opportunities to work in different areas of the retail stores, reducing the stress and risks of handling cash, reducing time spent in-store ‘closing the cash’ when their shifts end and finally it provides them with the ability to get promoted to more senior roles.
Setbacks of self-checkout technology
Like all new technology, time should be dedicated for consumers to get accustomed to using the new technology, and bugs can be fixed. Here is a list of complaints or issues with self-checkout technology.
Consumers are still having challenges with: Oversensitive bagging areas, the mis-recognition of items, the waiting time for the attendants (especially when purchasing alcohol), the layout of payment methods un-intuitive, instructions take too long and the lack of parking validation.
Retailers might have difficulty incorporating this self-checkout technology as the initial cost is very high and maintenance is expensive.
Author’s personal note
During my time in Ireland, I really appreciated using self-checkout technology when I was at convenience stores. Mind you, my short shopping list usually comprised of: chewing gum, bottled water and some juices or sodas. I experienced self-checkout with a full grocery list and it was hell: first off I needed assistance because the machine did not recognize the broccoli or the pasta AND I needed assistance from a clerk because when I tried to swipe my beer. I think that convenience chains would greatly benefit from this usage. Once they find a way to confirm date of birth, the process of shopping for alcoholic beverages will be much faster.