Self-checkouts have been around for over 20 years and have gradually evolved in terms of the software that they run, their weigh scale accuracy and the payment options available to the customer. Recent events have put a range of self-service technologies and applications at the heart of in-store post COVID strategies, as customer well-being takes centre stage.
Changing the Tempo
The rise and rise of self-service may have been predicted. In 2019 alone, 120,000 units were delivered according to RBR Research, but COVID-19 has totally changed the tempo of acceptance, with retailers now understanding that the devices can play an important role in helping to create a sense of well-being in-store as we embark on shopping during the pandemic and beyond. Decathlon is introducing a mobile self-checkout solution across its 81 stores in Germany enabling customers to scan and pay for items via their smartphone, thereby reducing necessary contact with other people, other devices and reducing the risk of Covid-19 transmission.
Similarly, a recent US based study by weigh scale solutions manufacturer, Shekel Brainweigh found that nearly two-thirds of consumers are changing their grocery shopping habits in response to the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, whilst over 87% of shoppers say they would prefer to shop in stores with touchless or frictionless self-checkout options.
Keep on Moving
There are also practical considerations from an economic point of view that need to be factored in to the new normal. Social distancing dictates that fewer shoppers can be in-store at any given time. Therefore, to minimise the inevitable fall in the number of transactions that will physically take place, it is incumbent on the retailer to utilise technology that speeds up the process, and keeps the footfall moving. Equally, customers may have queued prior to walking into the store and the automation can help ensure that the process is not repeated when they come to pay.
The pandemic has led to huge increases in contactless card payments with customers being nervous of the potential health implications of handling cash. According a recent survey of 1,000 UK consumers commissioned by Ergonomic Solutions, 60% of respondents have increased their use of contactless.
This increase can also be attributed to the raising of the contactless payment limit introduced across much of Europe along with the ability to complete their transaction without any need to physically interact with the technology.
Wellbeing: the Next Big Driver of Customer Loyalty?
Self-Service applications of all types provide an interface that places the entire transaction in the hands of the customer. Whether that be for checkout, in-store ordering, or loyalty scanning, they create a sense of customer well-being and control.
Muji, the Japanese household and consumer goods specialist retailer will introduce MishiPay’s Scan, Pay, Go technology to facilitate social distancing and minimising the physical contact with staff and technology. The app is proving popular across segments, with the BWG Group, who are operators of Londis and Spar in Ireland, undertaking a pilot in strategic locations across their retail network.
A recent survey from Cennox revealed that over two thirds of shoppers would find their loyalty to a retail brand tested if they felt safety measures fell short of their expectations. Proof, if proof were needed that the loyalty and patronage of retailers’ customers, during and post COVID, will be vital and those who provide clean, hygienic environments based on self service automation or mobile, pay anywhere, queue-busting mPOS technology will win the necessary confidence and loyalty of their customers.
In the current climate that means creating point of sale, point of payment or point of service environments that enables frictionless transactions with as few customer touchpoints with technology as possible.