The Pros and Cons of Retail Self-Service Checkouts
Any time you invest in a new initiative, you must first weigh the pros and cons. This is true even of the most essential investments for your business.
For consumers today, the option of checking themselves out is more than a convenience, but an essential means of keeping themselves safe.
Data from Raydiant’s 2021 State of Self-Checkout Experiences report shows self-service checkout solutions are one of those essential investments with 48.7% of American consumers saying they use self-checkout options “basically all the time.”
Additionally, some shoppers won’t visit your location if you do not offer self-checkout. The largest share of survey respondents said that between two stores being otherwise equal, they will choose to shop at the store with a self-checkout option rather than the one without.
There are a few downsides to self-service checkout solutions, though. Despite generally seeing them as safer than cashier-led checkouts, shoppers worry about the cleanliness of self-checkout kiosks. Issues with functionality and checkout speed also proved noteworthy.
Still, the overwhelming sentiment among surveyed consumers is that self-checkout is not just a feature of forward-looking businesses. Rather, self-checkout is an essential feature of any business that hopes to compete today in 2021.
The State of Self-Checkout Solutions
Self-checkout has been an option in big box retail stores like Walmart and Target for quite a while, but these self-service checkout kiosks have increasingly become a fixture in smaller retail stores, restaurants, and in-location businesses.
And 2020 certainly accelerated the rate of self-checkout usage: More than 59% of respondents observed an increase in their use of self-service checkout kiosks last year. 34.1% of respondents expect a “major increase” in their use of self-service kiosks in 2021, while another 57.5% of respondents expect a minor increase or continuation of their rate of self-checkout kiosk usage in the coming year.
In other words, businesses that want to provide a pleasing experience to the customer of today and tomorrow will offer self-checkout. But what can you as a business owner or manager expect from your self-checkout solutions, both good and bad?
The Pros of Self-Checkout Solutions
Self-checkout solutions can deliver a myriad of benefits in today’s in-location business climate, including but not limited to:
Pro #1: Safety
The surge in reported self-checkout usage among our survey respondents in the past year has coincided with increased awareness of viral transmission. As safety-consciousness became the defining tenet of society, self-checkout usage skyrocketed. This is no coincidence.
Though the relative cleanliness of specific self-checkout kiosks is a major caveat, most shoppers see the process of checking themselves out as less risky than having one or more human contacts at the point of sale.
Pro #2: Convenience
Shoppers see checking themselves out as the faster option compared with a cashier. More than 85% of respondents said their perceived increased speed of self-checkout over a cashier was either “very accurate” or “somewhat accurate.”
Shoppers who choose self-checkout give up the full-service and human interaction of a cashier-assisted checkout but are willing to do so because self-checkout is typically a quicker, more straightforward checkout experience.
Pro #3: Revenue-Driving Features of Self-Checkout Kiosks
Self-service checkout kiosks can offer a more efficient means of checking out while also driving sales for your business. With the ability to offer exclusive deals and suggest paired items on a checkout kiosk’s screen, your self-checkout solution may make sales for you. Importantly, it can do so without giving off the dreaded vibe of a pushy salesperson.
The fact is, customers value self-checkout options. Whether due to safety concerns, a desire for convenience, or a do-it-themselves mentality, 59.8% of respondents said that if given the option, they’d choose self-checkout over cashier-led checkout.
Still, there are issues with certain self-checkout solutions that may prevent you from realizing the full customer-retaining potential of self-checkout in your business.
Cons of Self-Checkout Solutions
Our research showed real issues with the functionality and deployment of certain self-checkout solutions. You may address these issues to deliver your customers the best possible self-checkout experience.
Con #1: Technical Problems
Do your due diligence when choosing a self-checkout solution, as an inferior option can defeat the purpose of investing in self-service checkout kiosks.
25.1% of respondents said they’ve encountered self-checkout kiosks that did not work. Another 21.9% said that they’ve dealt with a slow self-checkout solution. These were the leading reasons why customers said they might avoid using self-checkout solutions altogether.
Do your research, and invest in well-made, low-hassle self-checkout solutions which could spare you many headaches and deliver the benefits you hope for.
Con #2: Perceived Lack of Cleanliness
More than 67% of survey respondents had some level of concern about the cleanliness of self-checkout kiosks. This is an issue with a clear solution, however.
Raydiant has partnered with Coastal Health to outfit all Raydiant Kiosk, touchscreen, and Virtual Room solutions with an antimicrobial film. This film mitigates 99.99% of microbial bacteria, and will surely provide peace of mind to your health-conscious customers.
You can also integrate QR-codes into your Raydiant products. Through these codes, customers can use their phones to scan your signage—perhaps to activate a discount or see more details about your online offerings—without ever touching a kiosk or sign screen.
Con #3: Initial Investment
Yes, you have to pay to purchase self-checkout kiosks for your business. This upfront cost is perhaps the greatest reason why more businesses are not already outfitted with self-checkout solutions.
If you do your research, you’ll find that the cost may not be as great as you suspect. What’s more, the investment may repay itself sooner than you expect through customer retention, the driving of additional revenue, and the greater experience that your store provides because of the self-checkout feature.
As a business owner or manager, you want to give customers what they want. Sometimes, what the customer desires is not a good or service, but a way of shopping.
Your customers want self-checkout, and the data tells us so. If your self-checkout options are clean and functional, nearly half of the customers we surveyed will choose your store over your competitor’s in lieu of any other differentiating factors.
Isn’t this fact alone enough for you to invest in self-checkout? Even if not, you now know the numerous other benefits that self-checkout solutions provide.
Bobby is the CEO of Raydiant, a digital signage provider that helps businesses turn their TVs into interactive signs that drive sales, improve the in-store experience, and reinforce brand messaging. Prior to joining Raydiant, Bobby served as the COO of Revel Systems where he worked on the front lines with over 25,000 brick and mortar retailers.
Bobby has held leadership positions including CEO, CRO, and VP of Sales at companies such as Highfive, Limos.com, EVO2, Verizon Wireless, LookSmart, ServerPlex Networks, and Sprint/Nextel. When Bobby’s not spending his time thinking about the future of brick and mortar retail, you can find him traveling, reading, or tending to his vegetable garden.