Self-service and self-checkout in Retail

The world of Retail is changing dramatically. On the one hand, the pandemic and the emergence of new lifestyles have made it difficult to find store workers; on the other hand, consumers are looking for increasingly "frictionless" shopping experiences. Once again, it is technology that has come to the aid of businesses in the industry.

Automation in Retail: from need to opportunity

As we can see from news coming out of the United States, finding store workers has been increasingly difficult for several months now. Indeed, the pandemic has profoundly altered society and the priorities of the individuals in it. Whether the reason lies in family care, a desire for security and more flexible working hours or higher wages, retailers are struggling to fill vacant positions.

However, this is where the response to this need can turn into a great opportunity. Self-checkouts, where customers pay autonomously and without the intervention of a cashier, have many benefits. By having only a few employees to monitor several automated checkouts you reduce costs, maintain distancing, save time, and free up staff for customer service or online order management.

100% self-service stores and supermarkets

The context just described has already led to trials in the direction of more or less total self-service. Stores with few, if any, employees are beginning to appear on our city streets.

Amazon has launched its “checkout-free” grocery stores. Besides the tools and technologies behind these spaces, here the customer can pay and exit freely using QR-codes, smartphones and credit or debit cards (but also cash). A seamless shopping experience that combines the retailer's needs with customer satisfaction.

Looking at a different sector, last year in a small town in New Jersey, an unmanned bookstore appeared. Using Venmo, a popular US mobile payment service, Little City Books in Hoboken opened a second fully self-service store. Although it was a sort of experiment (the store didn’t have large enough volumes to cover the rent), the initiative was a success, reporting high sales and a consistently respectful behavior from visitors.

The beauty of technology: no more lines and the digitalization of physical stores

At this point, let’s go to the beginning of our observations: technological evolution in commerce also brings great benefits to citizens and consumers. The growing interest in digitalization and the need for distancing have led to the development of Apps and software that prevent lines from forming, such as Whyline and Safe Queue. Thanks to these, anyone who needs to go to stores, banks, airports, city halls or health facilities know exactly when to get there, without being crammed into long and endless lines.

It is innovations like these that will save physical stores. Robust injections of technology, including e.g., sensors, digital payment systems and inventory tracking, will inevitably lead Retail to a new phase. 

A path that the companies of Custom Group have been following closely for years, with responses that are always in line with customer needs. From the numerous self-service solutions in the Retail & Hospitality sector to the automatic checkouts, via the Bizeta Retail Solutions logistics suite, our products and services are always focused on the developments in the world around us.

Published on 31/01/2022 in Trends & Markets