Month: October 2020

Secure self-checkouts in times of pandemic?

The last few months have been difficult. The situation has forced us to adapt to new conditions, including commercial ones. Are self-checkouts the answer to new customer expectations? Are they safe and what does the customer actually want now?

The post-pandemic client. What has changed?

As we remember, in the beginning, the order to limit going out caused fear and panic. We rushed to the shops and stocked up on large quantities of goods, especially those with a long shelf life. Some products began to be in short supply. At that time, retail chains saw record profits. Internet shops triumphed. Online shopping seemed to be the best solution in this situation as it ensured that there was absolutely no contact with another person. Unfortunately, online shops, especially those supplying food, were also taken aback by the sudden surge in customers and lead times were significantly extended. Like it or not, armed with masks and gloves, we had to return to stationary shops.

A disinfected self-service checkout scale is a “must have” today.

We started to wash and disinfect our hands more often, to pay attention to hygiene. We are not the only ones. Shopkeepers have also established procedures to make shopping as safe as possible, minimising the risk of infection. In the meantime, the strict restrictions have been lifted, with only the obligation to wear a mask remaining. But something has changed in the public mind. For the better. Good habits will stay with us for a long time. Richer in knowledge and experience, customers pay attention not only to the choice of goods and attractive prices. They expect shopping to be safe and, in fact, hygienic. Retailers face another challenge – safe self-checkouts.

Secure self-checkouts

I have written about the fact that Poles are eager to use self-service devices here. Manufacturers of self-checkouts meet the expectations of customers. These devices have been present on the market for some time, but until now mainly large sales chains decided to use them. In order to shorten the time of waiting at the cash desk, shops probably did not even think how futuristic solution they introduced. Currently, many companies offer self-checkouts dedicated to smaller shops. I am convinced that in the nearest future, these cash registers will also appear in these shops. Why?

Because when finalising a purchase at a self-checkout;

  • the customer has no contact with the cashier
  • the purchased goods are only touched by the customer
  • the set-up of self-checkouts forces a distance between customers
  • moreover, some manufacturers offer devices that allow the customer to take care of his/her own safety directly.

As a rule, life or business changes are preceded by a deeper analysis of the situation, a plan and expectations. Now we have been put up against a wall, whether we want to or not, we have to adapt. Forced changes, although often very stressful, do not always have to be a bad thing, on the contrary they can bring a lot of good.  The situation has drawn our attention to hygiene issues, and these are not only important in the context of the current epidemic, it should be remembered that there are many diseases that can be contracted through contact with other people. Hypermarkets, supermarkets and even small shops promote contact with other people and therefore the risk of infection. Fortunately, stationary shops can rest assured, customers still value the possibility of self-selection and quick access to goods, they have just raised the bar.

Self-checkouts in Poland. Is this the way to success?

The introduction of modern solutions to the market is always associated with risk. Do self-checkouts in Poland have a chance to become something common? Is it a necessary investment? And is it this time and this place?

That is how it was and that is how it is now.

The development of self-service technologies in Poland is a fact. This phenomenon is not surprising. Everyone likes to decide for themselves, especially when it comes to spending money. That is why the entrance of hypermarkets to Poland 30 years ago was a great success. The decades of standing in queues for each individual product and the lack of choice are behind us. The times when the quality of service depended on the shop attendant are behind us. Poles rushed to hypermarkets in large numbers, somehow realising their need for freedom. And it is precisely this need for freedom, for making one’s own choices, that is now crucial in making purchasing decisions. But what’s with the cash registers?

Poles and new technologies.

The twenty-years-old generation does not remember those times, but the thirty-year-old have had the opportunity to experience this phenomenon, not to mention older generations. Poles are open to novelty, they are not afraid of new technologies.   More and more Poles are aware of the constant development of technology and the need to keep up with it. At present in Poland over 90% of payments are made by contactless. Poles are willing to set up a trusted profile ePUAP, a profile on the e-patient portal to receive e-prescriptions, etc. As a rule, new technologies are perceived by Poles as something that makes life easier.

Self-checkouts in Poland are „in demand”. Observing the behaviour of customers who decide to use self-checkouts, I noticed that the users are not only young or middle-aged people. I see elderly people efficiently completing their purchases or asking an assistant to ‘teach’ them how to use such a cash register. Even people who are afraid of using self-checkouts often get out of their comfort zone and try them. They learn because they know that in a short while, the novelty will be an everyday occurrence.

Self checkouts in Poland – Partner Tech in Stokrotka – Polish Retail Chain

Why do Poles choose self-checkouts?

What are the main reasons why Poles want to use self-checkouts? Let us consider.

As I want, when I want.

Firstly, it seems to me that the most important element is the aforementioned possibility of choice. It is the customer who decides which cash register he wants to choose. A person who has not yet been convinced by self-checkouts does not feel forced to choose modern technology and this increases the likelihood that he will try it in the future. As we know, people are different. Some choose traditional cash registers to talk to the cashier or out of fear of unfamiliar machines. Others are eager to test all technological innovations and choose shops that allow them to do so.

I am saving time.

Certainly the factor that has led Poles to use self-checkouts in the first place is the absence or much shorter queues. It’s always an enticing prospect. Even traditional cash registers are chosen based on the length of the queue. We value our time more and more. While there are certainly people who enjoy the selection of goods during shopping, a long queue can effectively spoil the pleasure.

I do the packing myself.

Another reason that makes a customer choose a self-checkout is again related to choice – the choice of how they want to package their shopping. Very often cashiers operating traditional cash registers scan products at the speed of light. The customer has barely finished putting the goods on the belt and has to run to pack them, as the scanned and piled-up shopping almost falls to the floor. In between blindly throwing the shopping into bags, he pays for his purchases, measured by the urging eyes of the next customer in line, who is waiting to start his marathon of lining up and packing. Deodorant in the yoghurt, a crushed tomato or a broken jar can all lead to frustration. With a self-checkout, customers can complete their purchases at their own pace and pack as they wish, not as they have to.

I buy what I want.

Another circumstance that makes a customer decide to use a self-checkout is the desire for privacy. Poles do not always want their purchases to be visible to ten people. We live in a country where the purchase of certain products can still arouse unhealthy interest or, even worse, unnecessary comments from others. Shopping is part of privacy. Everyone can shop the way they want and need without being judged by others, even by just looking. The customer appreciates not only the fact that he can take the goods off the shelf himself, but also that he can pay for them in full.

Of course, there are many more reasons why customers use self-checkouts in Poland. Probably many of them will be mentioned on this blog. Theoretically, I can assume that as many customers as many reasons? I will research. After all, customer service is my passion and my destiny ? I will research.

One thing is for sure, self-checkouts are not only modern devices but also tools that offer customers a completely different buying experience. Shops that allow customers to use self-checkouts are perceived as modern and friendly. And customers return to such shops willingly.