Customers these days are unwilling to wait in line for their purchases. With checkout counters being a bottleneck in the majority of retail setups, customers often tend to leave if the wait is too long. This results in the obvious loss of sales, but this disappointing experience could also significantly impact consumer loyalty,
Long queues of customers have in several cases lead to disruptive behavior too. Reduced checkout lines and a streamlined payment process make it easier for the retailers to run their business effectively and simultaneously create a safe and less stressful environment for staff and customers.
Self-checkout technology may not be surprisingly new, but it's a growing trend in the retail sector. The global retail self-checkout market is expected to grow 10.3% year over year until 2024.
Why are self-checkouts ideal for customers?
This predicted growth of self-checkout terminals isn't surprising if you consider some of the biggest consumer trends.
1. DIY (Do it yourself)
DIY these days has become a compulsory norm for consumers. From self-scanning their bags at the airport to booking various treatments or taking online medical appointments to self-managing personal finances on phone apps, the tendency to DIY has spread to almost all facets of life.
There appears a shared preference for figuring things out on their own across ages, genders, and geographies. People also find it easier to interact with a machine. A recent consumer survey by SOTI revealed that more than 60% of shoppers prefer using self-service technology over asking a salesperson.
2. Busy lives
Everybody these days is leading a busy life, and they have no time to waste. Consumers are used to getting information, communication and products almost instantly. So while they are shopping in a retail outlet, they prefer to do it at their own pace and comfort level. They want to shop at their convenience, taking as much time as they want to; however, once they are done, they want to speed up through the checkout process and be on their way.
According to a survey by Box Technologies and Intel in the U.K., more than 90% of shoppers actively avoid stores with long waiting lines. 70% even said they might not go back to a store with long waiting lines.
As self-checkout terminals tend to be more compact, shifting to this technology means retailers can replace one manned till with multiple self-checkouts. It's an intelligent way to reduce lines without having to increase the required retail space.
3. Small hypermarket baskets
Due to a shift in the pattern of purchase habits, consumers worldwide drop by at the supermarket multiple times and buy just a few items at a time. According to global research done by Dunnhumby, today, more than 60% of hypermarket baskets contain six or fewer items. Smaller hyper-market baskets are apt for self-checkout machines, as these have been shown to save time compared to the baskets of 10 items or less.
4. Increasing cost of labor
In a traditional setup, you need one employee per till, but one staff member can monitor several tills at once with self-service machines. With the help of manned checkouts, one staff member must be at or by the till even if no customers are waiting in case someone shows up. With self-checkouts in place, there's no need to waste your employees' time. He or she can effectively use the off-peak hours to receive products, restock the shelves, or advise customers.
In the past few years, several retailers have expressed misconceptions about self-service technology. Some of the most common concerns include:
- High cost of hardware.
- High cost and low usability of the software.
- Shrinkage control. Different factors such as scanning the wrong product to missing an item to intentional theft can lead to lost inventory. It has been argued that shrinkage is more frequent in self-checkout lanes.
- Concerns over user acceptance. Some retailers usually worry that their customers don't want to use these self-checkout terminals because they are too complicated or simply because they'd prefer to have an employee serve them and care for their needs.
Although these have been challenges in the past, those times are now behind us.
1. Slashed hardware costs
Until a few years ago, these self-checkout kiosks required special hardware, which meant a high investment. Today, this cost can easily be minimized. A self-checkout that only accepts card payments, paired with manned tills that take all sorts of payments, can be a cost-effective solution.
2. Managing the risk of shrinkage
There is a lot of apprehension on the risk of customers cheating or stealing at self-checkout machines. Despite all the discussion, it's not yet clear if and how much self-checkout affects shrinkage rates. After all, employee theft is also a crucial factor to consider. For retailers, what matters is that you can take preemptive steps to minimize the risk of fraud.
3. Users are ready
Today's customers are not simply ready, they are asking for these options. In a recent study, 89% of customers said it was crucial for grocery stores to use self-service technology to make checkout quicker. A study predicted that, within five years, supermarkets would be mainly self-checkout.
How can Lipi Data help?
The self-checkout kiosks by Lipi Data are powerful, versatile, and easy to deploy. They can function on standard hardware and integrate easily with your existing systems. They are easily configurable to your unique requirements. Some of the features include:
Instead of waiting in queues for a manned checkout, customers can quickly go to any vacant self-checkout and check out immediately. This reduces the chances of them leaving without making a purchase.
Flexible Store Layout
Self-checkout stations can be easily placed throughout the store, allowing customers to make payments wherever they are. This reduces waiting for lines near manned checkouts and reduces the time they spend in-store waiting to pay.
Deploy Staff More Efficiently
By using self-checkout, staff can be redeployed to other essential tasks. They also have substantial time for dealing with customer queries.
Improve Manned Checkout Experience
Redirecting customers to self-checkout reduces the line for manned checkouts. This results in a more pleasant checkout experience.
Integrate With Online Sales
Customers can now browse and purchase unavailable items and easily arrange to have them delivered or collect them later, creating an endless aisle.
Upselling During Checkout
Using the Guided up Selling feature, you can recommend additional purchases to customers during the checkout process. For example, you can also offer an extended warranty when they purchase electronic goods.
Giving control back to the consumer
Perhaps the most crucial feature of self-checkout terminals is that it gives customers a feeling of control. Customers can now check out their purchases at their own pace and comfort level. The feeling of saving time and not waiting in queues is above anything.
Additionally, what matters to modern consumers is having the option to shop, pay, queue, leave, how, when, and as they prefer. The most successful stores today manage to strike a balance between full-service functions and self-service options.