Self-service checkout; more hassle than help?

Self service checkout

As Singapore and other parts of Asia are introducing self-service checkout options it’s interesting to note what the rest of the world is experiencing with this service. I find it convenient when I’m only doing basic item purchases, (e,g. bread and milk), can’t imagine a stock up trip using this.  And I thought the whole point of this technology was to reduce retail staffing costs.

Recent research from Tensator found that one out of every three shoppers (out of nearly 400 polled) has walked out of a store without the goods they intended to buy — simply because of a bad experience with a self-service checkout.

The findings also revealed that 84 percent of those questioned needed staff assistance when using a self-service checkout and 60 percent of customers actually preferred the more traditional, staffed checkouts.

Other statistics revealed by the survey from Tensator include:

  • more than 40 percent of respondents cite technical glitches as the most annoying aspect of self-service checkout;
  • more than half of shoppers questioned believe the transaction speed at self-service checkout is actually slower than at manned checkouts; and
  • more than 50 percent of consumers complain that they aren’t sure where the line starts at self-service payment points.

Other studies suggest that retailers are far less dubious when it comes to self-checkout. Recent research from RBR forecasts the total number of self-checkout deployments to continue to climb through 2018. RBR correlates the rise with the growing number of retailers attempting to diversify their approach to self-service.

Still, Tensator Chief Executive Alan McPherson said that with the growing trend toward retail self-service, retailers need to ask themselves if they are getting it right.

“[W]ith so many shoppers preferring to be served by a member of staff, managers need to be looking at the queuing systems they have in place at their staffed checkouts to make sure they’re performing to the best of their ability. No retailer wants to lose customers, but it seems that many are,” McPherson said.

Cathy Barnes, professor of retail innovation at Leeds Metropolitan University in the U.K., said if technology improvements fail to soothe consumer frustrations, the move to self-service checkout could eventually drive more consumers to shop online.

“This research makes very interesting reading against the backdrop of growing online retail sales,” she said. “Shops need to pay increasing attention to the experience they provide in-store to ensure they do not drive consumers away