Report • 15.10.2017

Retail self-checkout systems hold untapped potential

Fundamental willingness to use self-checkout systems is distinctly greater than the actual percentage of users

Germans mostly know self-checkout systems (SCO) from their visits to IKEA. Yet by now, supermarkets and some drug store chains have also started to let customers scan their own products. Even so, both customers and retailers continue to be skeptical. Especially the latter are afraid that the expensive systems might not be met with the necessary acceptance.

Despite a recent study by the Market Research and Consulting Institute YouGov that indicates that every other German consumer has already used some form of self-checkout system, doubts about their pros and cons prevail. Brand image, investment, and user benefits are the key barriers to retailers. That being said, the report also shows that the fundamental willingness of customers to use self-checkout systems is distinctly greater than the actual percentage of users. In other words, there is a lot of untapped potential in this area.

Stationary self-checkout solutions: must be easy to use and accept cash

Self-checkouts include various systems where the checkout process is either entirely or partially handled by the customer. They come in different variations, depending on what retailers and customers need. Stationary and mobile solutions are offered as an alternative – and this is crucial – to traditional cashier-staffed checkouts.   

In the case of stationary self-checkouts, customers personally scan each item. To do this, they move the product across an integrated bi-optic laser or imager scanner. Depending on the model, scanners feature security scale configurations that not only serve as a scale but also ensure that the scanned item is truly the item it claims to be. A software compares the barcode to the standard weight specification. Security scales can also be added as an external module. In this case, customers need to place products on a separate scale to continue the scanning process before they are allowed to scan their next item. Depending on the model, the scanner also features an integrated deactivation of the electronic article surveillance tag.

At the end of 2016, Edeka Aschoff in Kassel installed four SCO systems. Owner...
At the end of 2016, Edeka Aschoff in Kassel installed four SCO systems. Owner Robert Aschoff is thrilled and says, “I don’t want to force anything on my customers. That is why we always have at least one cashier-staffed checkout open in addition to the self-checkout systems to give our customers a choice. I am also not fond of any large signs or indicators that limit the use of self-checkouts only to customers with a certain number of items. Our customers quickly realize that the self-checkouts mostly make sense if they purchase fewer items.”
Source: Toshiba

Customers receive instructions via a touch display during the entire process and are able to check all of the steps and scanned products. A simple user interface guides through all of the processes. Voice instruction might also be an option. Retailers should ensure that the entire range of products is accessible in the system. This pertains most notably to counter items, items that require weighing or bakery products. This might involve separate steps such as an additional menu with images to select the products. Customers can also redeem coupons, gift coupons or bottle return receipts.

Some terminals only offer cashless payment methods. The payment process is frequently verified via a signature pad though some systems also feature fingerprint scanners. However, since skeptics prefer to pay cash, retailers should also offer a cash payment option in addition to debit and credit card payments if at all possible. Integrated bill and coin recycling options not only make the payment process easier for customers, they are also an efficient cash handling component for retailers thanks to integrated cash management systems. The SCO systems can also be upgraded with technologies enabling contactless payment with NFC. This solution is already standard in new models.

In addition to stationary models, many manufacturers also offer hybrid solutions. With just a few steps, these systems can be converted into cashier-staffed checkouts. This allows retailers to be more flexible, especially during rush hours, thus preventing long lines.

A personal shopping assistant assists the customer throughout the entire...
A personal shopping assistant assists the customer throughout the entire shopping process in the supermarket. The assistant leads the customer directly to the desired products or proposes related products based on purchasing behavior. A mobile shopping app makes it possible. The scanner is located in the touch display itself. Payments can then be made comfortably in cash or digitally according to the self-checkout principle.
Source: iXtenso/Schmitz

Mobile scanning as a supplement to stationary checkouts

Mobile scanning solutions require customers to receive a handheld device at the supermarket entrance, so they can scan the products throughout their shopping trip. This solution often requires prior registration with a store card for example. At the end of the shopping trip, the data is transferred to the POS system and customers either pay at a machine or at a separate checkout counter. At this point, manufacturers also offer corresponding functions for smartphones by way of shopping app. When customers leave the store, they pay for their scanned shopping basket by using the previously registered payment methods. The advantage of this solution is that it also makes additional features like a shopping list, sales indicator as well as indoor localization and navigation available. So far, these types of systems are only sporadically featured across Germany. Having said that, markets are increasingly being equipped with stationary and mobile self-checkout solutions.

Globus has already introduced a self-scanning system called “Scan&Go” in...
Globus has already introduced a self-scanning system called “Scan&Go” in eight of its markets. Customers need to first login at a registration terminal with their store card before the handheld device can be accessed. Customers scan the barcode labels throughout their shopping trip. The scanner shows all scanned products plus the amount and price in an article summary. To pay, customers then proceed to one of the payment locations, simply scan their store card and review the displayed purchase. Customers can conveniently either pay cash or use their credit card at the machine.
Source: NCR

Customers must be able to choose – and should not be forced to use SCOs

According to the YouGov study, introducing self-checkout systems is only beneficial if the target audience is made up of potential users, that being people who use self-checkouts at least on a minimum basis. The 25 to 34 bracket tends to be especially tech-savvy. In addition, customers between the ages of 18 and 24 as well as 35 to 44 are also attracted by this option.

At the end of 2016, Edeka Aschoff in Kassel introduced four SCO systems at its market. Customers who use this solution include men, women, young families and even older couples. The supermarket management affirmed that especially the latter appreciate the new option because they feel less rushed because it allows them to set their own pace.

What’s more, in addition to the age group, retailers should also analyze POS receipt data to determine the percentage of customers shopping for a small number of items, thus totaling a lower average purchase value. After all, SCO systems are still best suited for the purchase of a limited number of items. If retailers record a large number of items, it might be a sign that the implementation is unprofitable.

Above all, retailers should clearly communicate the variety of available payment methods and their usability to also convince skeptics. Within the checkout zone, the location also plays a crucial role: an accessible entrance and exit should also be guaranteed. A physical or visual separation has a negative impact on usage patterns.

What’s more, customer service staff should also receive special training. This is why it is especially useful during the introductory phase to have staff available at the SCO systems to answer any customer questions or to fix problems. There should subsequently also be at least one dedicated associate who should promptly release dated items for example. Meanwhile, once new modules are being integrated, retailers should also ensure that staff is adequately informed and trained if needed.

Since SCO systems are always open and available, there are automatically more available checkouts. This increases average sales per foot, while customers appreciate the faster alternative to avoid standing in long lines. The retailer’s brand image can also benefit with the implementation of SCO systems, provided that the foundation has been laid and the target audience is the focus of this endeavor. That’s why investment concerns should not be the primary focus here. And since the systems are now produced on a larger scale, the equipment acquisition is comparatively more economical than it was just a few short years ago.

Author: Melanie Günther, iXtenso

related articles:

popular articles:

Thumbnail-Photo: Silver Surfers: Older adults ride the wave of mobile technology and shop...
01.08.2019   #online trading #e-commerce

Silver Surfers: Older adults ride the wave of mobile technology and shop online

The increasing importance of e-commerce for senior citizens

You are wrong if you think it’s mostly young people who spend time online. Older adults are also increasingly embracing online shopping with enthusiasm.In this interview, Spencer Hinzen, Director of Sales, Central Region, Ruckus Networks, ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Innovative ICA store triples revenue
22.08.2019   #electronic shelf labels (ESL) #price labelling

Innovative ICA store triples revenue

Automatic price updates and product information at the shelf

Since ICA merchant, Jan Sikström, took over the ICA Ettan store in Sundsvall (Sweden) in 2016, he has almost tripled the turnover from SEK 15 million to SEK 40 million. Today, the store has 15 employees and approximately 5,000 different items ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Introducing a new, powerful mobile POS in Posiflex’s MT series...
25.06.2019   #epos systems #cashpoints

Introducing a new, powerful mobile POS in Posiflex’s MT series

MT-5310W from Posiflex combines the mobility of a tablet with the functionality of a fixed POS terminal. .

Today’s customers have higher expectations than ever when it comes to service. To meet and exceed customers’ ever-growing expectations, Posiflex is pleased to present MT-5310W, the latest addition to the popular MT series: a hybrid ...

Thumbnail-Photo: retail trends 3-2019: focus checkout zone
16.09.2019   #mobile payment #customer satisfaction

retail trends 3-2019: focus "checkout zone"

Shopfitting, technology, marketing: What does a checkout have to do nowadays?

Read our latest edition retail trends 3-2019 online as an e-paper. ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Online retail sales to exceed 6 trillion dollars by 2024...
18.09.2019   #online trading #e-commerce

Online retail sales to exceed 6 trillion dollars by 2024

Average online customer spend will surpass 1,000 dollars globally per annum

New data from Juniper Research has shown that the total transaction value of remote payments for digital and physical goods will exceed 6 trillion dollars by 2024; representing a growth of 53 percent from 2019.The new research, ‘Mobile & ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Nets and Swish partner on in-store payments pilot...
23.07.2019   #mobile payment #mobile terminals

Nets and Swish partner on in-store payments pilot

Bluetooth tech enables scalable instore payments for mobile payment app

Nets, a European payments company, and Swish, the number one payments app in Sweden, announce their collaboration on an in-store payments pilot program.Until now, Swish has mostly been used for account-to-account transactions and, more recently, ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Improving performance with video training
19.06.2019   #personnel management #video

Improving performance with video training

Video tutorials for inventory management or customer service excellence

Smart Retail Solutions (SRS) has announced their ProfitTrax Platform is now including Best Practice Video Training in its Advanced Analytics Suite. Their team has successfully implemented the update because they believe the key to profit improvement ...

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: When customers become cashiers
01.10.2019   #epos systems #mobile payment

When customers become cashiers

Treading a fine line between traditional and visionary, between checkouts and codes

For years, we have done this in online stores: we fill our shopping cart, click to pay and are excited about our purchase. Thanks to the snabble app - now available at the Knauber Hobbymarkt in Bonn and at IKEA in Frankfurt – consumers can ...

Thumbnail-Photo: drs//POS – The POS system for many check-out situations...
13.09.2019   #pos systems #cashpoints

drs//POS – The POS system for many check-out situations

With the POS system developed by Superdata you are put in the picture

The POS acts as an ear in the store. It affects how timely, and with what information, decision makers at the head office are in a position to assess developments in the store and are able to respond appropriately to the situation.With our POS ...

Supplier

iXtenso - Magazin für den Einzelhandel
iXtenso - Magazin für den Einzelhandel
Celsiusstraße 43
53125 Bonn
Permaplay Media Solutions GmbH
Permaplay Media Solutions GmbH
Aschmattstr. 8
76532 Baden-Baden
Delfi Technologies GmbH
Delfi Technologies GmbH
Landgraben 75
24232 Schönkirchen
Superdata GmbH
Superdata GmbH
Ruhrstr. 90
22761 Hamburg
APG Cash Drawer
APG Cash Drawer
4 The Drove
BN9 0LA Newhaven