Checking out at a supermarket can be quite frustrating. Casual customers who don’t place their things on the conveyer belts fast enough may suffer impatient looks from the cashier. Customers on a tight schedule, on the other hand, may scream internally when cashiers are in no rush to scan their items.
Now, self-checkout has stepped in as a solution to these frustrations. Many pharmacies and supermarkets already have a few self-checkout counters to complement staffed cashiers, but some have taken it a step further. Walmart, for instance, is experimenting with a self-checkout only location at one of its stores in Fayetteville, Arkansas. If the experiment proves successful, the company says, this new checkout method will be rolled out to Walmart stores across the country.
Self-checkout grants customers autonomy by allowing them to check out at their own pace. Customers can scan as quickly or as slowly as they want, depending on whether they are shopping out of necessity or looking for a relaxing shopping experience. Payment is also streamlined, and customers paying with cash will no longer wait forever for change which occasionally happens with inexperienced cashiers.
Even if some customers are very slow when checking out, supermarkets don’t need to worry about keeping other customers waiting, because the same amount of space can accommodate more self-checkout counters than traditional checkout counters with conveyer belts. More counters and more efficient checkout also lead to a faster customer turnout rate, hence higher revenue for supermarkets.
Supermarkets reduce costs in the long run by introducing more self-checkout technology. The grocery industry is known for its high turnover rate, with an average annual turnover cost of 67,200 dollars per store. Turnover rate is high in supermarkets because employees are often dissatisfied with low pay and menial tasks. Machines, on the other hand, don’t need to be trained and don’t get bored. By using self-checkout counters, supermarkets can spend less time and money training new cashiers and instead assign employees to more fulfilling tasks to increase employee satisfaction.
In addition to self-checkout, there are other potential areas where supermarkets can use self-service. They can, for example, install self-service kiosks for customers to check what’s in stock, so they won’t waste time looking for an unavailable product. Self-service kiosks can also point customers in the right direction so they can easily locate what they want to buy. Moreover, when customers can browse everything a supermarket has to offer on a kiosk, they won’t forget to buy anything, and may even purchase something that wasn’t initially on their shopping list.
Self-service has already been in our life for some time. Movie theaters are using self-service ticketing machines and restaurants are using self-ordering kiosks. As automation continues to make our life easier and more efficient, self-service technology will become even more prevalent, and supermarkets should be the next sector to fully embrace it.