Move Over, Standard Shopping. Hello to Self-Checkout!

Big corporations like Wal-Mart, Target, Lowes and McDonald's have years of experience using self-checkouts to make shopping efficient for others. Using self-checkout helps businesses reduce operating costs, alleviates long wait times and helps customers get in and out when they have a few items.

The increase in self-checkout shipments was determined by the pandemic-fueled desire of shoppers who did venture out to stores to avoid personal interactions with others. There has been momentum for service-oriented stores to add self-checkout—with so many people paying with debit and credit cards, it has become a global trend.  

RBR, which conducts primary research in banking automation, payment cards and retail technology on a worldwide basis, forecasted that by 2026, there will be 1.5 million self-checkouts installed globally.

In North America, big-time grocers continue to broaden self-checkout availability. Other types of retailers like discount stores, convenience stores and pharmacy chains have started to add self-checkouts as well.

There have been several C-store chains that have implemented self-checkouts: 

  • Global Partners owns 264 company-owned convenience stores across the northeast that have self-checkout kiosks. 
  • Royal Farms started implementing self-checkouts in the beginning of 2019 and they have taken off in 2021. Royal Farms has more than 250 locations in Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. 
  • Circle K also decided to have cashier-free checkout lines. They have a new partnership with Grabango, a software company in Berkeley, CA. They planned on bringing 6 units across Tucson, Arizona.
  • Wawa has also tested the waters with self-checkout. In Alexandria, Virginia, they plan to install more self-checkouts in their stores in addition to the 61 that they already have. Wawa also plans to include self-checkout lanes in their new stores. 

Self-checkouts have been around for quite a while and new companies have been implementing them into their stores. So, what are the pros and cons of having self-checkout lines?

Pros and Cons of Self-Checkout 

The pros of having self-checkout lines, as I mentioned above, are efficiency and quickness. No one likes to wait in line for one item, so having the self-checkout line is quick and efficient. It also frees employee time for other tasks. With self-checkout lines, employees can stock shelves, help customers or clean the store. This improves operations in the current labor environment because the stores do not need a cashier in each line.

Another great pro is that customers just love self-checkout lines. According to Consumer Reports, customers generally like self-checkout due to the perceived time savings. 

The cons of having self-checkout lines are theft, high up-front costs, customer confusion and equipment issues. Theft is a big concern for stores that have self-checkouts because it increases shrink and since there are fewer employees watching the lanes, it will increase the theft risk. Not only can people steal items, but they can steal other card information with skimmers. 

The cost for a four-lane self-checkout is approximately $125,000, not including security. Customer confusion and equipment issues can be time-consuming and pricey, based on the problem. This includes software glitches and dealing with items left in the bagging area.  

Self-checkouts will be a new norm in the coming future. The pros and cons should be considered when implementing self-checkouts because the customer’s experience is what matters the most.





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