Interview • 12.02.2020

Effective and Independent

Present and future of self-checkout

Better use of personnel, lowering overhead costs while still providing customers with a smooth and seamless shopping experience – that’s what every retailer strives to accomplish. For Thomas Dibbern, CEO of ALMEX GmbH, there is an obvious solution to make this a reality and it is called “self-checkout”. We sat down with him and talked about customer expectations and discussed the promise of technology and the future of retail.

Mr. Dibbern, what are the current trends and developments for checkout solutions?

Thomas Dibbern: Not much has changed in brick-and-mortar retail since the first barcode scanner was introduced at checkouts several decades ago. Retailers only added new payment methods and readers for customer loyalty programs along the way. Having said that, we now expect to see drastic changes in the next few years thanks to new digital technologies and an increasing importance of customer self-service.

Self-Checkout payment system
Self-Checkout payment system
Source: FORMAT-Tresorbau Gmbh & Co. KG

Why do you think self-checkouts are becoming a popular choice?

Various factors play a role in this setting: On the one hand, retailers continue to face rising cost pressures, which forces them to look for strategic steps to cost reduction and savings. On the other hand, a good portion of the population wants greater efficiency and ”independence”. The desire to speed up the checkout process and take an active approach rather than dealing with waiting in long lines at the checkout is –among other things - also driven by the consumer’s online shopping experience.

Demographic changes are likewise impacting the popularity of self-checkout stations. The limited number of team members must be used in the most effective way and that means engaging more extensively in customer service versus the checkout area. In the case of the latter, associates only get in touch with customers at a point where they have already made their purchase decision.

However, it’s ultimately the new digital technologies that promise to increase consumer acceptance of self-checkout solutions: For example, once produce is automatically recorded via visual object recognition or packaged goods no longer have to be scanned using the EAN code, self-checkout becomes an opportunity to enhance the customer experience.

How does Germany compare to other countries? Who are the pioneers of this technology?

Over the past years, self-checkout solutions tended to stay on the sidelines in Germany. Meanwhile, they are far more common in England, Switzerland or in the Scandinavian countries. One of the reasons for this is that the increased application of cashless payment methods in said countries makes the use of self-checkouts less complex and subsequently less expensive compared to Germany where cash still tends to be the lifeblood of brick-and-mortar retail.

What solutions does Almex offer in this area?

In the past 18 months, we have developed a number of solutions that support a variety of different retail usage scenarios. One of our solutions is a large-scale self-checkout terminal that is optimized for use in full-line grocery stores. After all, bigger purchases simply require more space, allowing consumers to place the merchandise on the weight scale platform.

We also developed self-checkout units with a smaller footprint, making it possible to replace a traditional cashier-staffed checkout with four self-checkout terminals. What’s more, we also offer a so-called hybrid self-checkout system: at peak times, the terminal can either be used as a fully assisted cashier lane or it can be converted to a self-service cash register in a few simple, easy steps.

Man with red hair
Thomas Dibbern
Source: Thomas Dibbern

Where do you see areas of improvement when it comes to checkout systems from a customer’s perspective?

I prefer and expect a high level of efficiency and independence as a consumer. These expectations are primarily met in today’s online shopping settings. Having said that, I am also an avowed supporter of brick-and-mortar businesses: I genuinely value the customer-service and being able to try and touch items. I treasure the physical shopping experience. If we can tackle the drawbacks of brick-and-mortar retailing – including too much time spent being “inactive" at the checkout, which often prompts customers to put their purchases back on the shelf -, we would have made a big step towards improving the retail checkout landscape in the brick-and-mortar sector.

Care to give us a sneak preview? Which products will you showcase at EuroShop 2020? 

Our trade fair appearance focuses on the motto "Security and Efficiency for your Digital Future". We will present a variety of modular self-checkout systems. They are available as both a cashless version and in combination with cash recycling solutions. The ergonomically well-thought-out design of our terminals is a unique selling point. Our systems meet the ADA requirements for accessibility in the U.S. market for example.

We will also showcase our solutions for object and age detection at the self-service checkout. One of our goals is to drastically decrease intervention at the self-checkout that requires an action by a staff member. We achieve this goal by partially automating the age verification process pertaining to the purchase of alcohol and tobacco products.

At EuroShop, we will also highlight state-of-the-art solutions for software-based system integration, as well as present our full touch Android MDE devices, which will play an important role in the future of in-store retail customer service.

Looking ahead to the future: What will shopping look like in 20 years?

Brick-and-mortar stores and e-commerce will sustainably coexist in the future. Retailers will comprehensively use digital technologies to improve the in-store experience at their brick-and-mortar stores. The global rise of cashless payments and advances in image processing will make self-checkout systems more convenient. They will become standard and a familiar sight across the world. This will subsequently make concepts like "no checkout" or "seamless checkout" as promoted by Amazon Go redundant.


Interview by Sonja Koller

related articles:

popular articles:

Thumbnail-Photo: When the product becomes the POS
19.08.2019   #mobile payment #pos systems

When the product becomes the POS

“Mobile-first” or the future of the Point of Sale

The classic Point of Sale means physical sales areas including a terminal, cash systems and queues. But this traditional image is changing. Nowadays many customers in brick-and-mortar retail outlets expect the same experience as online and require ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Enhanced, interactive, virtual – It’s all about the experience!...
21.11.2019   #online trading #customer satisfaction

Enhanced, interactive, virtual – It’s all about the experience!

AR and VR can boost online and offline retail

New technologies permeate all aspects of the retail business, whether it’s self-checkouts, AI or robotics. Virtual and Augmented Reality (VR and AR) are yet other components in this setting. In this interview with iXtenso, Kelly Goetsch, ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Spar: opening in Copenhagen
30.10.2019   #electronic shelf labels (ESL) #price labelling

Spar: opening in Copenhagen

International Flagship-Store opens for business in Sydhavn, in the South of Copenhagen

On August 22nd, the grocery chain Spar opened its doors to a brand new store with international concepts in the South of Copenhagen area, Sydhavn. The new store offers a modern shopping experience where it should be easy, convenient and enjoyable to ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Pay cash? Via code!
26.08.2019   #mobile payment #app

Pay cash? Via code!

Shop online, pay the bill offline

Barzahlen.de relies on good old cash. The concept of the Berlin start-up: shop online, pay in cash at the store. Swimming against the trend of fast online shopping and mobile payment is paying off, says Weina Wang, Head of Retail. In an interview, ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Nominate your company for the E-commerce Germany Awards 2020!...
21.11.2019   #online trading #e-commerce

Nominate your company for the E-commerce Germany Awards 2020!

Award ceremony as part of E-Commerce Berlin Expo

The E-commerce Germany Awards are officially accepting submissions as of the 4th  November, 2019. Companies within the e-commerce sector are able to apply to one of the ten categories. The annual awards are given out for the third time in ...

Thumbnail-Photo: What do people around the world buy?
16.12.2019   #online trading #e-commerce

What do people around the world buy?

Global fashion search engine Lyst reveals trends in online shopping behavior

High-quality and contemporary fashion: Online shoppers can find fashion’s hottest brands and products using the search engine Lyst and learn everything about the latest fashion must-haves. iXtenso spoke with Eva Lindner, Marketing ...

Thumbnail-Photo: New year brings new regulations
13.09.2019   #data management #receipt printer

New year brings new regulations

What are the big changes for German point of sales systems come 2020?

Big changes are coming to Germany’s point of sale systems starting January 1, 2020. Two terms that are tossed around in this connection are "Belegausgabepflicht" (Receipt Provision Ordinance) and ...

Thumbnail-Photo: App creates personalised shopping experience...
26.08.2019   #mobile payment #app

App creates personalised shopping experience

The Swiss trading company Valora is opening its first cashless convenience store

The goods are chosen, scanned and paid for using the avec smartphone app. Mobile computer vision specialists Scandit’s scan engine is a key component of the customer-facing app. The future of shopping - whether online or offline - is ...

Thumbnail-Photo: POS in the cloud: the networked checkout
13.09.2019   #epos software #digitization

POS in the cloud: the networked checkout

On the possibilities for a cloud-based point-of-sale-system

Everyone is talking about smart industry-specific cloud solutions. The cloud also offers the retail sector fresh possibilities for its day-to-day operations. So, it's no surprise that more and more companies are installing point-of-sale software ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Epta on the podium of the German Design Awards 2020...
10.12.2019   #design #refrigeration cabinets

Epta on the podium of the German Design Awards 2020

Excellent prodcut design with OutFit and Mozaïk, combining functionality and aesthetics

Epta wins the prestigious German Design Award for the second time, the award given to projects that merge functionality and utility, aesthetics and quality. The OutFit family under the Costan brand and Mozaïk under the Bonnet Névé ...

Supplier

POS TUNING Udo Voßhenrich GmbH & Co KG
POS TUNING Udo Voßhenrich GmbH & Co KG
Am Zubringer 8
32107 Bad Salzuflen
Delfi Technologies GmbH
Delfi Technologies GmbH
Landgraben 75
24232 Schönkirchen
Superdata GmbH
Superdata GmbH
Ruhrstr. 90
22761 Hamburg
ARNEG S.p.A.
ARNEG S.p.A.
Via Venezia, 58
35010 Marsango di Campo San Martino/PD
iXtenso - Magazin für den Einzelhandel
iXtenso - Magazin für den Einzelhandel
Celsiusstraße 43
53125 Bonn
APG Cash Drawer
APG Cash Drawer
4 The Drove
BN9 0LA Newhaven
Permaplay Media Solutions GmbH
Permaplay Media Solutions GmbH
Aschmattstr. 8
76532 Baden-Baden
Frost-Trol s.a.
Frost-Trol s.a.
Ctra. Valencia-Barcelona, km. 68,9
12080 Castellon