Month: January 2021

Self-scanning – mobile self- checkouts.

All the predictions I’ve seen for retail in 2021 talk about a strong expansion of self-service. The good news is that customers want to return to stationary shops. However, they don’t want to spend a lot of time there for security reasons. The shopping process is supposed to be fast, efficient and safe. Is self-scanning what the customer wants?

Contactless retail – self-scanning on the market.

Retailers are always striving to provide the best possible shopping experience for their customers and are constantly looking for new ways to make the shopping experience seamless, convenient and enjoyable. With the rapid development of retail technology, more and more shops are adopting self-service solutions as part of their customer service strategy.

Global Market Insigts, estimates that the global self-service checkout market size is likely to be valued at over USD 18 billion by 2023. Growing demand for self-service devices from the retail industry is expected to drive industry growth over the forecast period (2016-2023).

Customers who a few months ago were shopping even on a daily basis are now wondering whether to go to the shop at all. They are used to receiving purchases ordered online without contact. This way they save time and feel safe. However, people need contact with other people. Even children on remote learning declare their desire to return immediately to stationary classes. No fooling, knowledge is not the main reason for this enthusiasm 🙂 .

Customers are already returning to stationary shops and retailers who want to stay in the market need to be prepared for new demands. As I have already written here, customers expect a secure shopping process. Retailers are implementing self-scanning technology to ensure customers are comfortable while shopping. This is nothing more than mobile self-service checkouts. This solution allows customers to self-scan their purchases in stationary shops using professional mobile scanners or smartphones. This technology enables the shopping process to go smoothly without the assistance of staff who can take care of other tasks.

Self-scanning - the contactless solution to customer expectations.
Self-scanning – the contactless solution to customer expectations.

Shopping with scanner in hand.

Thanks to self-scanning, the customer scans the barcodes of the products himself while shopping, packs them himself and makes the payment at the self-service kiosk or via an application on his phone. Scanning takes place using a professional portable scanner or via the camera in the smartphone. The customer himself brings his own mobile self-service cash register to the shop or uses a portable scanner in the shop.

The app can be expanded with various add-ons that are important for both the customer and the retailer. While shopping, customers can learn more about the product e.g. its composition, use, recipes etc., they can be informed about promotions or discounts specially dedicated to them. Self-scanning has been and continues to be an effective way to increase customer engagement. Research has shown that customers value the opportunity to get to know a product in detail and to change their mind more easily during purchase. As a rule, the customer puts purchases in the basket once and takes them out once, and this significantly reduces the time spent in the shop, especially as they do not have to wait in the checkout queue. The verification of purchases can take place selectively on the basis of algorithms prepared according to the expectations of shops.

On the other hand, for retailers, self-service is also a valuable source of data on customer behaviour. Tracking app usage along with regular key performance indicators of the shop is a good way to assess performance in many areas. In-store traffic, checkout wait times, shopping patterns, basket size, revenue, costs and customer satisfaction can all be captured and measured.

Self-scanning makes shopping easy, fast and safe.
Self-scanning makes shopping easy, fast and safe.

Smartphone or professional mobile scanner?

Using each of the above-mentioned devices during self-scanning has its advantages and disadvantages. The choice depends on the shop’s capabilities and needs. Both devices significantly reduce shopping time and allow the customer to go through the shopping process as they wish. They offer a choice.

Self-scanning by smartphone:

  • ensures there are enough scanning devices in shop – every customer brings their smartphone,
  • makes purchases hygienic,
  • reduces investment costs – the customer buys the device himself,
  • saves space in the shop.

Self-scanning by professional handheld scanners:

  • professional scanners are more robust, resistant to wear and tear and drops from a great height,
  • can inspire greater confidence in customers for reasons of data security,
  • professional scanners capture barcodes faster as they are less sensitive to the quality of lighting and the direction of the codes than smartphone cameras,
  • mobile scanners have long-lasting batteries that recharge quickly when returned to the cradle, the shopper can be confident that the scanner is charged enough to complete the purchase process.

In summary, the retailer using self-service consumer devices incurs lower costs and is able to increase shop space. This is important to maintain distance and ensure safety. In turn, purpose-built professional scanning devices provide a better shopping experience for the customer, thus building customer loyalty. However, to successfully implement a self-scanning solution in a shop, the most important factor is the performance of the scanning software. The solution must work well every time and on every device. In any customer service, the user experience is paramount. The pandemic situation has made it necessary for shops to implement efficient contactless service faster than planned in response to new customer demands.

Implementing self-checkouts – how to do it right?

More and more shops are choosing to implement self-checkouts. However, retailers and customers are still struggling to actually use them. Changing shopping behaviour is difficult, but possible with the right implementation. What should it look like and what should you pay attention to?

Shop analysis.

The decision to implement a self-checkout system in a shop is always an investment preceded by a careful review of the offers. I have already written about how to choose the right self-checkout here. However, the key element for optimal use of self-checkouts is their implementation. Even the prettiest, best or most expensive SCO will not ensure success. The key is to understand the specifics of your shop and your customers’ shopping behaviour. Implementing self-checkouts in every shop will look different. It is important to consider how to implement SCO to achieve the objectives set by shop owners.

What does the purchasing process look like in your shop?

Before the implementation of self-checkouts in your shop can begin, the shopping process must be analysed. The basis for a thorough shop analysis is the POS data modelling technique, i.e. obtaining sales data of the shop and proposing different self-checkout systems. The choice should not only be made based on sales data alone, you should observe your customers and conduct short interviews with them.

The size of the shop and its nature is also an important factor. Is it a neighbourhood shop or a large supermarket? What is its location? Perhaps offices or schools nearby mean that our shop has more customers at certain times. How do our customers like to shop? Do they use trolleys or baskets, or do they take the goods in hand? How do they like to pack it – in a carrier bag, in their own net or maybe in their pocket? By looking at these factors, you can determine where you should place your self-checkouts.

Let’s look at the customers.

Customers’ purchasing behaviour tells us a lot about their needs. Analysing them allows us to propose a solution that responds to them. How many customers visit our shop each week? What goods do they buy? Maybe you should consider Select&Collect if your customers buy tobacco or premium items?

And then there’s this…

The shop analysis will also identify key success indicators and calculate potential savings on labour costs and give an idea of what security measures should be implemented at the self-checkouts, in our shop.

Proper implementation of self-checkouts allows the business to grow.
Proper implementation of self-checkouts allows the business to grow.

Self-checkout implementation vs. positive experience.

Once the self-checkout system has been selected and implemented, the next step is to create a positive experience when using it. In particular a positive first experience. How do you encourage people, both staff and customers, to use self-checkouts? How to ensure that staff are not afraid to use them? First and foremost, the process of using a self-checkout should be as simple as possible. It should be so intuitive that using it is natural, without the need to put special effort into learning. Remember that today’s staff and customers are technologically literate. They already use telephones, information kiosks or even electronic printing of numbers in offices. An intuitive interface will not be a special challenge for them.

Staff.

Firstly, staff should be well trained and taught how to encourage customers to use self-checkouts. At peak times in the shop, staff should talk to customers queuing and encourage them to try the self-service checkouts. Of course, staff must communicate the benefits and give all support to the customer.

Interventions.

During the implementation of the self-checkout system, it is necessary to work intensively on reducing interventions, as they always create a negative customer impression. At this stage, technical errors that occur should be actively worked on. Being aware of recurring errors will allow you to intensively search for solutions and reduce interventions. Remember; mistakes happen but they should be fixed and not repeated.

In summary, to be successful in implementing self-checkouts you need to:

  1. Analyse the shop using data modelling, customer observation and interviews with staff and customers.
  2. Choose the right location for the machines in the shop.
  3. Train staff on how to encourage customers to use self-checkouts.
  4. Create a positive first impression when using self-checkouts, for both customers and shop staff.
  5. Reduce the number of interventions by proactively fixing problems so that they do not reoccur.