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.