Why self-checkout kiosks won't eliminate the cashier anytime soon

Why self-checkout kiosks won't eliminate the cashier anytime soon

Human retail cashiers won’t being going the way of the dinosaur anytime soon as consumers still aren’t too thrilled with self-checkout technology.

Yet shoppers also aren’t too thrilled with the speed, or lack of speed, of a human cashier these days either. A new Harris poll reveals 88 percent of Americans wish checkout lines were faster.

But even slow human-driven checkout lines aren't driving more consumers to line up at the self-checkout line, notes Virginia Postrel, a Bloomberg View columnist.

"Three-quarters of respondents also said they sometimes avoid self-service — most often because of technical problems," Postrel toldthe Tampa Tribune. "Nobody wants to listen to an endless loop of electronic reprimands while watching other shoppers move smoothly through the human-staffed queue."

The self-checkout kiosk is viewed as a faster way to buy when the shopper has one or two items, according to the poll results. That’s because consumers believe more technical issues happen when more items require scanning.

"The only reason to go shopping will then be for the social and aesthetic experience," Postrel said. "Stores will have to treat employees as long-term assets who create specific value for customers rather than expenses to handle routine transactions. Technology will serve as a complement to, rather than a substitute for, staff."

When it comes to the retail customer experience aspect consumers aren’t seeing much love from human cashiers or the kiosk interaction as 61 percent agree clerks focus mostly on scanning and less on engaging with a customer to ensure they are satisfied.

The study, commissioned by Digimarc Corporation and published in late July, also notes a combined 50 percent of shoppers cited slow checkout speeds and long lines as top grievances when shopping.

This last statistic, according to Digimarc, should be a wakeup call to retailers and provides a rare chance to ensure a good customer experience.

"Checkout is the last opportunity a retailer has to make a positive impression on a shopper," said CMO Larry Logan. "Asking customers to endure a lengthy wait to process and pay for their order can spoil what may have otherwise been an enjoyable shopping experience.” He said retailer leaders can make critical gains in perceived value, customer satisfaction and loyalty by eliminating scanning inefficiencies and enabling faster checkout speeds.

The survey also noted many consumers would like to use smartphones to scan packaging to get additional product information. This is consistent with the findings from a recent Cisco Research report showing 73 percent of shoppers said they would scan products for special, customized offers and promotions in the store, according to Digimarc.

Topics: Automated Retail / Vending, Customer Experience, Kiosk ROI, Kiosks, Kiosks / Self-Service, Self-Checkout

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