Every shopping experience is a chance for the consumer to mold their tastes. As the COVID-19 pandemic has drastically altered the desires and demands of the typical shopper in the past year, it’s worth checking in with consumers to see what they want from their visits to physical retail stores.
According to our 2021 State of Self-Checkout Experiences report, self-checkout is a feature that customers value highly. Just about 60 percent of the 1,000 American consumers we surveyed said that they will head to a self-checkout kiosk rather than a cashier when given the choice.
Though they’re drawn to a positive self-checkout experience, consumers have clear demands that could impact your strategy for deploying self-service checkout kiosks.
Expectation No. 1: Consumers Expect Your Self-Checkout Kiosks to Work
Seems obvious enough, right?
Yet, 25.1 percent of consumers said they’ve had experiences where a self-checkout solution didn't work. This was the leading reason why some shoppers have reservations about using self-checkout kiosks.
Like any in-store feature, your self-checkout kiosks should achieve their desired goal. Installing self-service checkout solutions that are unreliable or failing to keep your machines up-to-date could compromise customer trust in your brand.
Conversely, working self-checkout kiosks can help move customers through your store and drive revenue from shoppers who prefer a do-it-themselves approach when it comes to checking out.
Expectation No. 2: Consumers Expect Your Self-Checkout Kiosks to Be Fast
When it comes to self-checkout, speed is generally the name of the game. Customers who don’t have many items to purchase, or those who are willing to skip the line by scanning their items on their own, can do so through self-checkout.
More than 85 percent of consumers told us that they see self-service checkout options as quicker than traditional, cashier-led checkout. In some cases, though, customers have had less-than-speedy self-checkout experiences.
More than one-fifth (21.9 percent) of respondents said they’ve had at least one experience with a self-checkout solution that was slow. Failing to purchase and maintain self-checkout kiosks that have a quick-functioning operating system could render your self-checkout options far less effective than they could be.
If a customer was willing to tolerate a slow checkout experience, they would wait for a cashier to scan and bag their items for them. Speed is a crucial pull factor for any self-checkout option, and speedy machines mean a greater pace of customer conversion.
Expectation No. 3: Customers Expect Your Self-Checkout Kiosks to Be Clean
According to our survey, 36.3 percent of consumers said that they were “using [self-checkout solutions] much more” in the past 12 months, while 23.5 percent of respondents said that they used self-checkout “a bit more” over the past year. It’s tough to untangle these stats from the pandemic conditions that have defined most of the past 12 months.
It’s apparent that customers see interacting with a machine as comparatively safer than interacting with a cashier, and possibly a bagger. However, a significant segment of consumers still wonder whether the self-checkout kiosks they're using are as clean as they wish them to be.
Furthermore, 30.9 percent of respondents said that it was “very accurate” to say they worry about the cleanliness of self-checkout kiosks. Another 36.4 percent said that the statement is “somewhat accurate.”
It’s a fair concern considering the times that we're living in. Customers may be more likely to use your self-checkout kiosks, and return to your store, if they have no doubt in their mind that you're providing a sanitary, contact-minimal mode of checking out.
Expectation No. 4: Your Customers Expect You to Have Self-Checkout Options
Consumers have spoken: they want self-checkout. As I mentioned previously, just shy of 60 percent of consumers said that even when considerations like lines are the same, they prefer to use self-checkout rather than cashier-assisted checkout methods.
In fact, consumers might not even visit your business if your competitor within a comparable distance offers self-checkout and you don’t. Nearly half of consumers (49.4 percent) said that they will shop at the comparable store with self-checkout rather than the one that doesn’t.
Expect self-checkout usage to continue its upward trend throughout 2021. The largest share of survey respondents (a combined 52.8 percent of them) said that they anticipate using self-service checkout options more frequently in the coming year.
Concerns about viral transmission from human contact accelerated the convenience-driven migration towards self-checkout kiosks in 2020. Antimicrobial film and features like QR codes for contactless engagement should further the perception of self-checkout as the safest checkout option.
The data shows that shoppers are using self-checkout frequently, and that they plan to use self-service checkout kiosks even more often going forward. By installing or expanding such kiosks, you can give consumers what they want while driving revenue by offering exclusive deals, discounts and upsells presented in a palatable way.
Consumers wary of health risks and accustomed to convenience demand the option of self-led checkout. Self-checkout is a reasonable ask, and one that enhances the overall shopping experience while serving as a revenue-driver for your stores.
Bobby Marhamat is the CEO of Raydiant Screen Signage, a digital signage provider that helps businesses turn their TVs into interactive signs that drive sales, improve the in-store experience, and reinforce brand messaging.
Related story: Why In-Store Experiences Are the Key to Thriving in 2021
Bobby Marhamat is the CEO of Raydiant Screen Signage, a digital signage provider that helps businesses turn their TVs into interactive signs that drive sales, improve the in-store experience, and reinforce brand messaging. Prior to joining Raydiant, Bobby served as the COO of Revel Systems where he worked on the front lines with over 25,000 brick and mortar retailers. Bobby has held leadership positions including CEO, CRO, and VP of Sales at companies such as Highfive, Limos.com, EVO2, Verizon Wireless, LookSmart, ServerPlex Networks, and Sprint/Nextel. When Bobby's not spending his time thinking about the future of brick and mortar retail, you can find him traveling, reading, or tending to his vegetable garden.