More and more food retailers take advantage of self-checkout systems (SCO). However, consumer acceptance depends heavily on the way the new checkout solution is introduced. Detlef Rohlender, Managing Director at ITAB Germany describes the most important aspects.
Rohlender, is it the fault of retailers or customers that Germany lags behind other countries when it comes to the implementation of SCO solutions?
Needless to say, retailers always have to consider the necessary investment, amortization and expected customer acceptance at the respective location. A new development or a major renovation often goes along with an investment in a new checkout area and generally also includes considerations about the use of self-checkout systems. There is a general customer acceptance, while the degree of utilization and ultimately sales are heavily influenced by the location, the positioning in the checkout area and the attending service staff. Incidentally, we notice that especially older people appreciate self-checkout systems. SCO solutions are ideal for smaller basket purchases, where customers can set their own pace.
What is the biggest difference compared to countries like Great Britain, for example, where SCO systems are clearly more prevalent?
Unlike other countries, Germany still has a very high percentage of customers who pay cash. Many customers assume that they cannot pay with cash at an SCO system and thus initially refuse to use it. When we ask customers to use these solutions, we often hear them say: No, I can’t, I want to pay with cash. They are subsequently very surprised when we show them how easy it is to pay cash at the SCO. Basket-to-bag solutions are ideal for smaller purchases up to 10 items; ITAB offers conveyor belt-based system solutions for bigger purchases, which also increases the degree of utilization. We strongly believe that the large selection of products but also the exposure of consumers to more and more SCO solutions in everyday life will also quickly increase the percentage in Germany.
As a manufacturer, what advice do you give retailers who consider the introduction of self-checkout systems?
First, analyze your sales receipt data. Monitor and record waiting times in the checkout area and chart the percentage of customers who purchase a smaller number of items and log lower average total sales amounts. What customer paths do you expect in the checkout area? Which of your employees could you envision to work at a different workstation in the future and how do you rate the willingness of your customers to use new technologies? Do your competitors already use these types of solutions? There are many questions you should ask and answer before making a decision. We would be happy to explain these and many other requirements at EuroCIS 2018.