No Cashier Necessary: 4 Pros and Cons of Implementing Self Checkouts

Shopping is a necessary task for all people. It allows them to get the goods they need to live and enjoy their lives. With the large array of options available, most people try to choose the store that is most convenient for them. 

Attracting customers and maintaining profits are the main goal of every retailer. This is why many stores have begun implementing self-checkout systems. These systems can assist stores in reaching their goals. However, with the benefits of these systems, there are also negative aspects that must be considered. 


Pro: Convenience

A self-checkout system can help customers find more convenience in the store. Instead of waiting in line at a regular checkout, customers can quickly ring up their own items at the Self-checkout kiosk. This is especially beneficial for customers with only a few items. 

When the store offers multiple self-checkout systems, it allows more customers to check out at one time. Often, especially when a customer has only a few items, they can check out their own items faster than a cashier can. This quick checkout can make customers more likely to return for their next shopping trip. 


Pro: Cost-effective 

One of the biggest benefits to retailers is how cost-effective a self-checkout system can be for the business. Many retail stores maintain a small profit margin. The cost of employees can really eat into that small profit. Self-checkout options can help minimize the cost of labor. 

There are times of the day when a store is slower than other times. However, the store must still maintain cashiers to check out customers. With self-checkouts, fewer cashiers need to be on the clock during slow hours. Customers can conveniently check out their own items and are on their way. 

With the self-checkout option, one cashier can serve any issues with several checkouts instead of only one per register. This allows stores to better allocate their employees and keep labor costs low. When the store is slow, cashiers can be utilized for other tasks throughout the store. 


Pro: Space Saver 

In a retail business, space is money. Every square footage of the store that can be utilized for products can help increase the store’s ability to make a profit. Unfortunately, customers need a place to check out when they have made their selections. These stations tend to take up a lot of room in the store. 

The self-checkout stations, however, require far less space than the traditional checkout line. In some retail settings, a company can place five self-checkouts in the space of a single traditional station. This provides the store with a lot more room to place products and other displays. 


Pro: Safety and Comfort

With the current pandemic situation, people have become aware of the need to maintain safety in the grocery store. However, cashiers often work face to face with customers to check out their items. This increases the chance of employees getting sick. 

Self-checkout options make it easier for employees to maintain proper social distancing guidelines throughout their workday. Customers also benefit from the safety and comfort of the kiosks by allowing them to use their preferred payment option without the need for cards or cash to change hands. 


Con: Theft 

Many retailers have very tight margins. Even a slight increase in theft can be very difficult for a store to handle. Self-checkouts have been shown to make it easier for some customers to not pay for some items. Some studies suggest that nearly 4% of items through the self-checkout are not paid for. 

The main problem with self-checkout is that retailers are trusting customers to check out their own items. Some cheating can occur during this process. Fortunately, there are many methods available to help prevent this issue. 

Some kiosks provide security options to prevent and identify theft as it is occurring. Another method for preventing theft is always to have an attendant monitoring the kiosks. One attendant can maintain several kiosks. Their presence alone will reduce the likelihood of theft. 


Con: Confusion 

Some other issues that may occur with self-checkout stations are the customer’s ability to use the machines. For those who are not as tech-savvy, it may be confusing or even intimidating to use something completely automatic. 

Some customers may feel frustrated when they cannot figure out how to use certain aspects of the system. When coupons or other discounts do not work, they may be upset that there is no one to explain why. These issues can be eased by having an attendant available to help with problems. 


Con: Errors or Glitches 

With any machine, problems can arise. When it occurs at a cashier-attended checkout station, the cashier can quickly figure out the problem or call for assistance in getting it back to normal. Often, the issue is a common problem that the staff are familiar with and can correct quickly. 

Unfortunately, when a customer is faced with an error or glitch, they will most likely not have the ability to fix the problem. If they cannot find assistance quickly, they may get frustrated and unwilling to use the machine again. This makes it important to ensure that an attendant is always available to help. 


Con: Lack of Personal Interaction

There are many people that look forward to the social interactions they find at their local store. For some people, this may be their main source for personal interaction. Self-checkouts remove that interaction many people enjoy. This can make them feel less comfortable at the store. 

It is important to make customers feel welcome. Those who feel uncomfortable with the lack of personal interaction may find another option for their shopping needs. This makes it important for stores to keep some regular cashiers available to ease this burden on their customers and ensure their return. 

Lack of personal interaction, however, is not always a bad thing for some customers. There are many customers that prefer to have a more independent shopping experience. Some customers with social anxiety issues may welcome such changes to their local store. 

Self-checkout options can be a major benefit for some retailers. However, it is important for stores to find the right balance to prevent alienating customers and pushing them to other stores. Saving money on employees and retail space only benefits the store if they are still making sales.