Self-service checkouts – the next step to store automation

66.1% of Poles are strongly in favour of introducing more self-service checkouts in stores – research by UCE Research and Syno Poland clearly points to the growing need for shop automation in Poland[1]. It is one of the key consequences of the coronavirus epidemic in the retail market. The trend confirms the increasingly quick deployment of self-service checkout in brick-and-mortar stores. With the large scale of the industry, the growth potential in this area seems enormous.

Of course, the model of paying for purchases without directly interacting with a sales assistant has been on the market for a few years now. However, it was introduced as a test or supplementary form rather than on a mass scale. Will this innovation become the new standard across the marketplace now?

 

Wide scale automation – only with the right partner

Earlier this year, one of our customers shared plans to install, by the end of March 2020, self-service checkouts in 116 of the customer’s 159 stores in the Warsaw region alone. Until recently, such devices were present in just a dozen outlets of this well-known network. Ultimately, the company decided to implement this type of solution on a wide scale across the country. In partnership with Sescom, they plan to install self-service cash registers in every third store by the end of 2020 – they intend to have them in approximately 37% of all outlets across the network in Poland by the end of December .

Sescom – in the process of installing self-service devices – is responsible for the dismantling of existing components of a traditional cash register set, the preparation of structural wiring for new equipment, the execution of electrical installation and the installation of components of the self-service device. We complete the process by verifying the correct operation of the system before opening the facility.

What is important is that the implementation process Sescom is responsible for can be conducted not only in stores in the largest agglomerations, but also in medium-size cities in all 16 provinces in Poland. Installation of devices on such a wide scale requires an experienced partner with an appropriate range of operation.

 

Installation is a process

A timely and professional installation of equipment is important. However, maintenance plays a crucial role, too. Properly working devices, speed and sensitivity of the scanner, sensitivity and range of the reader that catches the products’ bar codes – these are key elements of the sales process. The consumer is not an experienced cashier, and his patience and time are limited. Cooperation with a provider who takes care of the selection of the right equipment and then guarantees its stable operation, is an essential condition to the success of the project – and a basis for effective functioning of the store.

Customer satisfaction research confirms that poorly optimized, slow, freezing or non-intuitive self-service devices can lead to a significant decrease in customer satisfaction, which translates to a decrease in turnover.

At Sescom, we guarantee proven and secure solutions – which we deliver, deploy, integrate and service. We take care of the operation of various devices such as servers, computers, printers, mobile devices, etc. We operate telecommunications and low-current installations. We install and run computer hardware. We provide logistics and warehouse support with the maintenance of equipment components and the delivery of replacement devices.

 

Self-service – an advantage only

A properly selected and installed self-service checkout is currently one of the best tools for improving the purchase process in brick-and-mortar stores in many respects.

Under current circumstances, by limiting human contact, it raises customer safety levels and minimizes the risk of contagion. It also reduces costs, which, in a situation of pandemic and ambient uncertainty, is particularly important for business.

It reduces queues, too – and any retailer knows very well that nothing irritates customers more than the sight of cash registers closed while they are standing in a long queue. Moreover, customers who benefit from digital transformation on a daily basis are looking forward to such solutions. For younger generations, who are familiar with technological news, the lack of such devices is simply incomprehensible.

 

Self-service doesn’t mean the lack of customer service

Rising labour costs on the one hand, and the falling costs of equipment and the increasingly better, customer-friendly devices offered by manufacturers on the other, support the idea of introducing self-service checkouts right away. However, supporters of traditional shopping models sometimes talk about the “dehumanizing” of retail services and the reduction of job positions in retail industry. They could not be more wrong. Employees are still needed, not just to assist customers using self-service cash registers, but largely in the process of raising the quality of the purchasing process. If the customer can spend more time on the selection of products in the store, thanks to a proper stocking and helpful assistace, rather than standing in line for checkout, her satisfaction will increase, contributing to larger sales.

 

Pace of change is accelerating

The pandemic intensifies and accelerates many trends – directly affecting where and how consumers are more willing to shop. Companies that make quick decisions about implementing changes and responding to the needs of consumers and challenges of the current reality – win, and will continue to win.

After automation, time will come for autonomous shops, which – as a matter of fact – are already being tested. Choosing and implementing appropriate technological solutions becomes necessary for companies that want to keep pace with the competition and meet customer expectations.

The choice of a partner who understands the changes taking place – and has the knowledge and capabilities to adequately support the implementation of change – is critical to the stability of the business and the ability to respond quickly and effectively to market challenges.

[1] The study, commissioned by the AdRetail Group, was performed with the CAWI method by UCE Research and Syno Poland in mid-July 2020 on a representative sample of 1,032 adult Poles.