Self-checkout has become such a common fixture in grocery stores; it's hard to remember a time when it wasn't there. The technology has been around for the last two decades or so, and while self-checkout lanes are standard in large grocery chains, their adoption still lags behind in smaller chains.
Self-checkout machines present an opportunity from which even smaller operations can benefit—even under normal circumstances. Life during a protracted global pandemic, however, is far from business as usual. In extraordinary times like these, the benefits grocery stores can gain from installing self-checkout lanes extend far beyond the bottom line.
What most grocers already know: the obvious benefits of self-checkout
Of course, there are some benefits you should expect from any installation of self-checkout machines. Even single unit grocery stores have come to realize that customers appreciate and expect the convenience of self-service checkouts. Self-checkout lanes can also help your store’s bottom line in numerous ways, giving you a positive return on your investment in a relatively short time.
First, there’s the enhanced customer experience that comes with self-checkout and the traffic it brings. Our country has steadily shifted away from employee-based customer service and towards self-service. Customers have come to expect it, and in many cases, they prefer it. Self-service not only provides customers a sense of being more in control, but it also shortens the perceived wait time. Many customers have simply come to prefer self-checkout over traditional lanes—regardless of how busy the store may or may not be—and will seek out stores that provide them over those that do not.
Labor savings is another fairly obvious benefit of self-checkout, but one whose significance cannot be understated. Self-checkout lanes are the first to open in the morning and the last ones to close, and it only takes one person to operate four of them. Depending on your throughput and basket size, grocers can realize a full ROI in labor savings alone in the nine-to fourteen-month range.
Reducing shrink is another factor. Most grocery employees are honest and trustworthy, but all it takes is one person who isn’t. Any time such an employee handles money, there’s the potential for shrink. Self-checkouts eliminate nearly all of the risk because the money goes straight from the checkout stand and into the bank, so to speak.
“In times like these…”: self-checkout during COVID and beyond
It’s safe to say that during these unusual times, consumers have changed the way they shop. It wasn’t gradual, nor was it an option. Between public health guidelines and customer preferences, there may be a permanent shift in how people interact in grocery stores.
While we don’t know how long the pandemic will last, customers are likely to prefer grocery retailers taking steps to provide an experience where they feel safe. Self-checkout machines are an effective way to provide shoppers with a number of benefits that give them the safe experience they want today.
Self-checkout ensures less personal interaction with employees and other shoppers, so customers can check out without facing or having contact with employees during the transaction. Self-checkout machines can be programmed to further cut down on physical touchpoints—for instance, by having customers swipe their credit card to pay instead of first touching a button to select credit card payment. They can also reduce or eliminate the need to handle cash at the point of sale by accepting credit cards and mobile payment options.
Self-service lanes make physical distancing easier for both customers and employees. The self-checkout lanes can be positioned to make better use of space at the front of the store, allowing customers and employees to keep their distance during the checkout process.
Plus, self-checkout simply makes it easier for customers to get in and out of the store faster. Shoppers with smaller baskets can use self-service lanes to check themselves out quickly instead of waiting in long lines. By minimizing their exposure to crowds and making it easier to physically distance, customers have a better experience in the store. As always, the better the customer experience—especially during stressful times—the higher the customer loyalty.
The right retail technology partner can guarantee self-checkout benefits at any time
Self-checkout was already a sound investment for today’s grocers, with measurable benefits to the bottom line. Today, however, stores of all sizes have even more compelling reasons to provide their customers with self-service options.
Customers already prefer self-checkout in many cases. Now, with current health guidelines and the need to physically distance in public spaces, they will also appreciate your attention to their safety and the steps you’re taking to protect them while shopping for groceries.
Of course, before installing self-checkout machines in your grocery store, you need to be aware of the logistics and infrastructure required for selecting, implementing, and seamlessly integrating the technology. That’s why it’s critical to choose the right retail technology provider. Here are several aspects to look at when choosing a partner to help you with your self-checkout system.
- Expertise and experience: Your provider should have the training and real-world experience in how self-checkout fits into different environments, how the systems operate, and where best to locate them in the stores.
- Project management: Your provider should be experienced in large scale rollouts and be able to manage the project every step of the way, from the initial idea, to concept, to execution.
- Support after the sale: Your provider should be there after installation to train your employees and make sure everything is operating smoothly before they leave.
With decades of experience installing retail technology solutions, a partner and provider like TRUNO is your best bet for a successful self-checkout implementation. TRUNO’s expertise can ensure that your project will provide customers with the safer, more convenient grocery experience they’ve come to expect.
Let TRUNO design your self-checkout solution for the best customer safety and experience.