Time for businesses to offer customers choice when it comes to self-checkouts says Volumatic

26 March 2024

With seemingly every business and every consumer becoming more and more reliant on technology these days, it’s easy to think that every new piece of tech out there improves our daily lives. But one piece of technology that businesses are now questioning levels of reliance on is self-checkouts -following a backlash from customers frustrated with them for a multitude of reasons.

Self-checkouts were supposed to revolutionise shopping, making checkouts quicker and more convenient, but in reality, they’ve failed to live up to expectations. We’ve all experienced the annoying beeping and flashing of these machines telling us, ‘Unrecognised item in the bagging area’, but other top gripes from customers across the globe include:

  • Self-checkout machines not scanning properly
  • Items not being recognised
  • Items needing approval – from alcohol to glue to over-the-counter medicines and even non-alcoholic drinks – needing staff intervention
  • The machines make customers do the work of store staff

All of this has left shoppers even more frustrated than before – and customers are still facing lengthy queues while minimal staff attend to all the issues.

The other frustration, particularly from older customers is the lack of human interaction at checkouts now. Elderly customers who once enjoyed a chat as they went through the till point feel they’re no longer a priority to the stores that have replaced their staff with automated till points.

From a retailer's point of view too, self-service tills haven’t delivered as promised. Seen as a vital cost-cutting measure, reducing the need to employ so many till staff, reducing queue times and reducing shrink, many larger stores have invested heavily in this technology only for customers to turn away and for theft rates to rise as a result. Recent data published by BBC News shows that retailers utilising self-checkout technology have loss rates more than twice the industry average.

Giving customers choice

So, with self-checkouts causing so many issues on both sides, is it time for retailers to re-think and reinstate manned till areas?

UK supermarket chains such as Booths and Morrisons are already leading the way, with Booths having completely eradicated their automated till points in many of their stores, and just this week, U.S. retail giants Target, Dollar General and Walmart have announced they are rolling back self-checkouts too.

But while a 2021 survey in the U.S. found that 67% of consumers who regularly use automated checkouts have experienced an issue with them, it also found that 60% of people will choose to use a self-checkout if it means getting out of the store quicker.

This means that while retailers can continue to use the technology they’ve invested so heavily in, they should also increasingly be offering customers the option to choose between human and machine with more manned tills at their POS.

Keeping manned tills secure

The simple truth is that both customers and businesses like technology as long as it works well – step forward Volumatic.

Already long-established at POS at the likes of Tesco, Morrisons, the Co-op Food Group and Nisa stores, Volumatic’s all-in-one cash handling solution, the CounterCache intelligent (CCi) not only validates banknotes, immediately identifying counterfeits but also counts and stores your notes securely at POS, reducing the risk of till snatches and shrinkage. The CCi streamlines the cash handling process to ensure accurate and simple cash processing. Cash is accepted by the cashier and not touched again until it is safely in your bank’s hands. 

When enhanced with our new CashView Enterprise cash management software, the CCi becomes a true-end-to-end solution from POS to your bank, making your cash handling more simple, more seamless and more efficient.

The new CashView Enterprise offers you intelligent dashboards and live notifications, giving you the ability to track your cash flow effectively, and allows full visibility of the cash within your CCi devices across your store(s).

Mike Severs, Sales & Marketing Director at Volumatic said: “Here at Volumatic we love to embrace new technology, but self-checkouts have become unreliable and are frustrating even the most loyal customers.

As cash handling experts, we regularly encourage retailers to offer their customers the choice to use cash as well as other payment methods, and the element of choice for customers extends to this too – while some shoppers are happy to use self-checkouts, others prefer to be served by a person.

“By offering their customers a choice they can help keep customers happy and reduce losses and by investing in intelligent cash handling solutions like the CCi instead, they can reduce costs, become more efficient and increase their POS security all in one.”

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