by Michael Graham, Senior Vice President New Business Division
Navigating a path to self-checkout for your store can appear to be a treacherous one, wrought with dangers including the potential for significant capital outlay, lengthy and complex software integrations and possible service interruptions. Most importantly, what about fears of failed customer service experiences and tarnishing of your brand? Who will manage the work, support the transition, train your staff, and support you when ‘tech’ inevitably fails? These and other questions can make even starting the journey seem overwhelming and daunting. However, with improving sentiment towards self-checkout, one cannot simply ignore the possible benefits for their store. Despite an ominous beginning, self-checkout is no longer a novelty but a ubiquitous fixture in the minds of US shoppers.
Originally marketed to retailers in the 1980’s as ‘the’ transformational toolset to enhance retail-shopping experiences, the truth was that the benefits were primarily set against addressing high labor costs in a prolonged recession hangover. Unfortunately, because those benefits centered more on the business and less on the end-user, transformational experiences were fleeting and many customers balked at the idea of doing more work to complete a purchase. Hence, while a few big box retailers weathered consumer trade-winds against self-checkout, many retailers pulled back and in some cases dislodged self-checkout altogether. Enter a new millennium and advances in technology, and yet sentiment for self-checkout remained less than warm and fuzzy. A 2003 Nielsen survey found that 52% of shoppers considered self-checkout lanes to be “okay,” while 16% said they were “frustrating.”
With the return to physical ‘in-person’ shopping post the pandemic, our new normal of ‘point and click’, shopping has forced businesses to accelerate Omni-channel transformation, spanning online and in-store experiences. As a result, self-service checkouts have leaped into the limelight as a leading tool to enhance customer experiences. In addition, we cannot forget about the ‘Great Resignation’ impacting retailers and hospitality service specifically, creating challenges support traditional cashier and checkout processes, leaving business owners scrambling to meet returning demand.
Most importantly, augmented by the proliferation of self-checkout checkouts in grocery stores and big box retailers, consumers preferences for self-service checkout have shifted significantly in a just over a decade. A recent study indicated that 73% of consumers were in favor of self-service checkout options as compared to 46% in 2012 and 65% of customers said they would visit a restaurant more often if it had self-service checkouts versus just 42% in 2014. Stores are paying attention.
According to a recent report from RBR, the number of self-checkout lanes in the U.S. has increased 10% in the last five years. Driven by growth in segments like grocery, it has estimated that 38% of checkout lanes are now self-checkout (SCO). In fact, the pandemic trained us to think about safety and ultimately accelerated ideas like ‘contactless’ payments and encouraged less human interaction while shopping.
Beyond the fact that there is simply more checkouts installed, what is really driving positive sentiment around self-service checkout use? It is all about control. Customers have become accustomed to almost everything they need being at the touch of a finger. That means speed and efficiency are now viewed as non-negotiable expectations. Sure, the friendliness of the cashier, clerk or ticket agent can still have you clicking a smiling face on an exit interview, but in the end – speed, real or perceived, drives customer satisfaction more than any other experience outcome.
What about the benefits for your store? While the features of self-service checkouts vary by industry, the benefits are relatively common:
Retailers are reaping the benefits, gravitating quickly to the ability with checkouts to offload non-value added to lower costs channels while their employees focus on higher engagement/value added service. Let us not forget the obvious staff optimization efficiency levers combined with the aforementioned improved customer experiences.
Actually, those fears are unsubstantiated…for example, in many cases businesses are experiencing increased sales and are seeing significant upticks in the average ‘spend per person’ at a checkout. Fast food chains using self-service checkouts indicate the consumers spend an average of 12%-20% more when they order with their eyes and touch than when ordering from a cashier. McDonald’s has indicated in their own proprietary research that they have increased average ticket size by 30% since introducing self-ordering checkouts in 2017.
Blazing a new trail…
Now that you understand some of the benefits and considering the road behind us and the path forward, where is your store on the journey to Self-Checkout? Have you already made the trip? Maybe you are in the process of planning your route or exploring the possibilities, regardless of where you are on SCO map, Hyosung Innovue is here to assist you along the way.
Launching summer of 2023, JetCheck delivers frictionless shopping experiences while maximizing operational efficiency for any size retailer.
Our agnostic SW-HW integration approach differentiates us further, allowing customers to maintain their existing POS systems and provides significant efficiencies to speed to market for potential customers.
With over 40 years of expertise in manufacturing and self-service technologies and over 700,000 devices deployed globally, Hyosung Innovue can help you map the best path forward for Self-Checkout. Learn more at hyosungamericas.com.