The pros and cons of self-checkout

Consumers now have high expectations when they step into retail outlets. As well as being able to access impressive products, they want to benefit from a slick and convenient shopping experience, and to provide this, retailers are increasingly turning to technology.

As point of sale (POS) specialists CJ Retail Solutions note, the opportunities for using digital POS solutions are now endless – and this is where the self-checkout can come into its own. When used well, this technology can dramatically improve the shopping process.

Of course, before you invest in these systems for your firm, it’s important that you’re fully aware of their potential advantages and disadvantages. With this in mind, here’s a rundown of the major pros and cons of the self-checkout.

The pros

One benefit associated with this technology is the fact that it takes up less space than traditional checkouts. It’s often possible to fit up to six self-service kiosks into the same area as a single traditional checkout. This can be especially useful in small retail outlets where space is at a premium.

On a related point, because it’s possible to incorporate more of these kiosks into stores, they help to speed up the purchasing process. This is hugely important because busy modern consumers don’t tend to want to have to wait around in queues to buy items.

Then there are costs to consider. By including these checkouts in your stores, you can cut the number of sales personnel you have operating on your shop floors. In turn, this can help you to streamline your operations and offer more competitive prices.

The cons

However, as useful as this technology may be, it does have some possible drawbacks. For example, bear in mind that while many consumers are now tech savvy enough to use the kiosks with ease, some will struggle. This means you will always have to make sure personnel are on standby to assist in case people run into difficulties. Also, some people may simply prefer to be served by cashiers because they enjoy the human interaction. Therefore, if they don’t have the opportunity to pay for their goods at a regular checkout, they may take their custom elsewhere.

You should also be aware of the increased risk of theft. It’s true that most self-checkout systems come with sophisticated anti-shoplifting features. However, it can be harder to keep track of transactions, and customers may plead ignorance or blame the problem on the machines if they are found with items they haven’t paid for.

Striking a balance

There’s no doubt that self-checkouts can bring major benefits to stores. However, it may be unwise to completely forgo traditional cash desks in favour of these high-tech solutions. Often, it’s best to strike a balance and provide customers with both options.


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