Paper or plastic? Not too long ago, that was the only checkout question that consumers had to deal with. My, how times have changed. These days, whenever customers head to a checkout counter, they’re likely to deal with a barrage of questions, such as: Did you find everything? Do you have a loyalty card? What’s your email address? Would you like a warranty? Would you like to buy another product?
Retailers are under growing pressure to make the most of every sale, so associates are just doing their job by asking so many questions. But even for the most patient customers, being forced to answer so many questions can be annoying, exhausting and awkward. That’s why if many shoppers have a choice between using a traditional checkout aisle or a self-checkout station, they’ll go for self-checkout, even if it means waiting in line a little bit longer.
Mobile self-checkout — i.e., giving customers the ability to scan as they shop and pay with their personal mobile devices — makes the checkout process much easier for both customers and associates because it cuts down on upsell interactions and wait times. Retailers can still incorporate any questions or offers that they would normally mention face to face. With mobile self-checkout, however, customers can respond more quickly and with less awkwardness, on their own terms.
Even with these benefits, some retailers may be hesitant to adopt mobile self-checkout because it requires them to give up some control of the checkout process. They’re comfortable with managing traditional point-of-sale (POS) aisles and self-checkout stations because, despite their flaws, they know what to expect from them. Mobile self-checkout, on the other hand, requires customers to take over some of the duties that associates would normally handle.
If your business is struggling with these issues, try to view your mobile app as a complementary extension of your in-store checkout options. Your customers have mobile devices with them and are always trying to find a reason to use them, so why not give them the ability to do something that's likely to result in a positive and empowering experience? In fact, mobile self-checkout could be the hook that gets them to download your app and discover its other benefits — e.g., coupons, product details and reviews, inventory tracking, and much more — that will keep them coming back for more.
As brick-and-mortar retail continues to become more of a digitally integrated, omnichannel activity, forced face-to-face sales interactions will continue frustrating consumers who just want to get in, find and buy products, and get out. By implementing mobile self-checkout, retailers can relieve customer annoyance in the checkout line and speed up checkout. It’s more than just that, however: they’ll also cut operational costs related to staffing and the purchase and maintenance of expensive equipment, and they can free up valuable retail space in the front of the store by removing fixed POS terminals.
Samuel Mueller is the CEO and co-founder of Scandit, a mobile barcode scanning solutions provider.