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Debunking Self Checkout Myths

As the advancement of modern technology has made access to goods and services more readily available and convenient, more consumers are proving that they place a high value on convenience, immediacy and ease-of-use. The exponential growth of services like Amazon Prime, Uber and Seamless have demonstrated that the “convenience economy” is lucrative. But how can traditional brick-and-mortar grocers offer their customers the on-demand experience they are used to online?

When it comes to convenience in an in-store setting, self checkout is growing rapidly as a means to providing customers with a way to make their purchases quickly and efficiently. Self checkout is more popular than ever, with London-based firm RBR, which tracks the global self-checkout penetration rate, reporting that more than 80,000 self-checkout units were shipped worldwide last year as more retailers are investing in the technology. RBR forecasts that the number of global self-checkout installations will reach 675,000 by 2024.

Though the concept of self checkout is now well-established, its popularity is expanding as consumers are becoming more comfortable with, and even expecting, streamlined interactions with technology instead of customer service personnel. While critics claim that self-checkout has negative effects on the quality of customer service, loss prevention and labor costs, these are a few of many misconceptions about the technology.

Myth 1: Self checkout is replacing human jobs

Many detractors of the self checkout phenomenon bemoan the perceived replacement of hard-working cashiers with cold, unfeeling machines. However, adding self checkout lanes in conjunction with employee-staffed lanes can reduce the length of lines and allow employees to focus on tasks that improve the customer experience, like merchandising, shelf-stocking and answering questions. In fact, the Whistl Online vs Offline Shopping Survey reported that “when it comes to buying groceries, only 17 percent consider human interaction important.” Instead, when shopping in-store, customers value a well-organized and efficient layout, clean surroundings and help available when they need it. By shifting employee roles from cashier to specialized customer service and merchandising roles, modern grocers can prioritize what’s really important to today’s shoppers.

Myth 2: Self checkout makes shoplifting easier

While it may seem like acting as your own cashier is a foolproof way to sneak shoplifted items, the self checkout system is specially designed to prevent loss. With high-tech scales that detect the weight of items scanned, the system will alert attendants when the item scanned is not placed in the shopper’s bag, or when the item scanned doesn’t match the item placed in the bag. Added measures like store monitoring with security cameras and designated self-checkout personnel are common measures to deter shoplifting.

Myth 3: Self checkout is inaccessible

Many believe that cashiers or customer service personnel are the only solution to making customers feel their needs have been met. However, today’s self-service kiosks are well prepared to serve customers with different physical or mental capabilities as well as those who speak languages other than English. With multilingual options as well as handicapped or wheelchair-accessible designs and intuitive instructions, self checkout systems are a consistent experience that customers of all needs and abilities can count on to make their shopping experience simple and hassle-free.

Myth 4: Customers don’t like “doing extra work”

Shifting consumer preferences are driving the demand for retailers to re-think the in-store shopping experience. Self checkout allows customers to prioritize what is important to them in today’s modern marketplace, which is namely convenience, and the technology allows customers to control their own transactions and avoid lines and foot traffic. In fact, according to the Annual Connected Retailer Survey conducted by SOTI Inc., 73 percent of survey respondents were “in favor of self-service technologies to improve the retail shopping experience and reduce staff interactions.” It’s clear that consumers are not resistant to new technology, and rather, they embrace it. However, it must be user-friendly and actually help make their shopping experience easier.

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