When should you have or not have self-checkouts?

You should have them if you are in a safer area, want to cut down on labor, and your employees are not the most approachable people for customers.  They are also a convenience for the shopper in a hurry that wants to avoid long lines.  We’ve all been to that one store I won’t name and each cashier looked like they should be in the circus.  We finally ended up at the self-checkout.

You should NOT have them if your store is in a difficult area that has high shrink.  It’s really easy to ring up $29.95 lb morel mushrooms as though they were jalapeno peppers.  If you have approachable and pleasant employees that enhance the exit experience, by all means you want your customers to have interaction with them.

Self-checkouts need to be user friendly.  Can the checkout read the codes from any angle?  Easily process both manufacturers and in-store coupons?

Newer self-checkouts handle phone apps where the consumer has already scanned the items with their phone.  Other times the customer simply puts their items on a conveyer and the prices can be scanned from any angle.


I was visiting a Publix store recently in South Carolina.  Publix was sampling their egg nog.  Not only their egg nog but Harris Teeter’s (Kroger).  The Publix egg nog was yellow, rich and flavorful.  Harris Teeter’s was almost white and watery.  Brilliant move by Publix to exploit an inferior private label product from Kroger.  Are all of Kroger’s private label products inferior?  I doubt it but Publix found one that was.  Or perhaps for the holidays Publix has chosen to upgrade their egg nog to make Kroger look bad.  Is there a product in your store that you can compare with a major competitor to make them look bad?  A small regional chain could easily exploit a large national chain by developing a few high quality signature items and show the customer how much better their products are. 


I’m hearing more and more good things about stores that offer click and collect.  Walmart is rolling this out to more stores all the time.  Stay at home parents find this a less stressful way of shopping.  No need to unbuckle the kids and encounter the uncomfortable experience in Walmart.  Look for Publix to follow suit.  Kroger has been doing this in high volume stores. Stores I’ve visited say click and collect is about 3% to 4% of store sales.  I predict this percent will double over the next ten years. 


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  1. David –
    Always good to hear from you.
    Thanks for the newsletter.
    That thick, rich eggnog is making me a little thirsty!
    Have a very Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year!
    Looks like it is going to be a good one!
    Ed Underwood
    Vision Equipment