More than 70% of shoppers in five countries say they would use self-checkout technology if it was available, with British shoppers ranking it second only to ATMs as the self-service technology they are most likely to use, according to a study conducted for NCR Corporation by retail technology analyst, IDC.
IDC's research for NCR suggests that the worldwide growth of self-checkout technology, which allows shoppers to scan, bag, and pay for items without assistance, is being fuelled mainly by consumer demand.
"This pent-up consumer demand, combined with retailer success and commitment to continued deployment of self-checkout, indicates this technology is likely to spread quickly to more retailers in different types of stores," explained Christopher Boone, senior analyst for retail/wholesale vertical industry research at IDC.
Popular in the UK
In Britain, where self-checkout has been installed in several stores, more than 60% of consumers said they would be likely or very likely to use the technology. A separate survey revealed that the main reasons for self-checkout's apparent popularity are that it has potential for a faster checkout, shorter queues, and greater privacy.
Furthermore, even consumers who have never used self-checkout technology said that the option would be likely to influence where they shop. Around 40% of British consumers said they would be more likely to shop in a store that offered self-checkout than one that did not.
Top three formats
Supermarkets, hypermarkets, and department stores were the top three formats in which consumers said they would like to see self-checkout being made available.
"In an industry where price and location have traditionally been the only differentiators, self-checkout has the potential to attract new customers," continued Boone. "Essentially, self-checkout is enabling retailers to draw customers away from their competitors who don't offer the option."
US and European drivers
Retailers in Europe and the USA that have implemented self-checkout also echoed the consumers' feelings, reporting that improved customer service was the top driver for investing in the technology. The next most important drivers were improved throughput and competitive advantage.
"In addition to shorter queues, retailers believe shoppers value the convenience of an additional checkout option," said Alberto Camuri, vice president for NCR's EMEA retail solutions division. "While younger people are expected to use it because they are more comfortable with new technology, retailers are finding there is no core demographic; Rather, shoppers of all ages are using self-checkout regularly."
According to Camuri, the success of self-checkout technology in Europe is leading to faster roll-outs in those countries where units have already been installed, and greater interest from retailers in countries that have yet to try the technology.
Retailers that have used the technology also highlighted the fact that self-checkouts alleviate the burden of pulling employees out of other departments to staff cash registers during peak trading hours.
But rather than employing fewer staff, employees are typically redeployed to other tasks within the store, including shelf packing and customer service.
Shrinkage not an issue
According to NCR, one of the main concerns voiced over self-checkout when it was first introduced was its possible negative impact in terms of inventory shrinkage. However, when retailers with self-checkout systems were interviewed as part of IDC's study, they reported that shrinkage has not been a problem.
None of the retailers said that shrinkage had increased as a result of self-checkout systems, while more than one third of those interviewed claimed that the loss of goods has decreased as a result of self-checkout.
IDC's report, Self-Checkout Systems: Defining Retailers as Leaders of the Pack, incorporates interviews with 5,000 consumers across the USA, Britain, Germany, Italy, and Australia. The British research was conducted by NOP during May 2003, and surveyed a sample of 1,000 adults (15+ years old) by telephone. In addition, IDC spoke with 14 retailers across Europe and the USA that are at various stages of implementing shelf-checkout in their stores.
For additional information:
· Visit IDC at http://www.idc.com
· Visit NCR at http://www.ncr.com