Love them or hate them, self-service check outs are popping up everywhere. From the supermarket through to convenience stores, shoppers now have the opportunity to take their purchases to a till and process the transaction themselves. Shoppers can now leave the store without ever interacting with a member of staff. But is that a good thing?

The Benefits of Self Checkout

Of course, the benefit of self-service till points is that you can make a purchase quicker and easier than ever. It means that we spend less time stuck in a queue (until someone decides to process a trolley load!) giving you more time (in theory) to shop for more things. Now, with the Apple Store App, you do not even need to go to a till in an Apple store – just scan and go.

The Hidden Secret

Whilst the shopping experience becomes easier by removing any friction points, a little known secret is being overlooked. Retailers are actually delegating the service experience to the shopper. ‘Had a poor shopping experience madam? Blame yourself’. Now, the in-store experience or service is what YOU make it. Not ideal if you are having a bad day!

So What Are The Implications?

Self-service can be very useful for those in a rush however, a recent focus group we ran highlighted that people didn’t like using them. When it came to the crunch though, convenience outweighed their dislike of self-service tills. People felt like the personal touch was being lost.

So, by doing what we think will be easier for the shopper (while also lowering costs), we are making the buying experience unpleasant. More importantly, we are actually breaking that personal connection they can get when they are in the store. So… if that personal connection with your brand is lost, why should they shop with you when they can just go onto Amazon or EBay? If convenience becomes the traditional retailer’s last hope, they will soon be victim to the ever more sophisticated supply chain systems and reduced lead times for delivery that online retailers are now offering.

Its All About People

People are not just a cost. People can make the difference between success and failure in retail. It is time for retailers to re-connect with their shoppers by making it personal. I have said it before and even Matthieu Mercier (CEO LS Travel Retail Asia Pacific) said it at the Singapore conference – People Buy From People.

Next time you use a self checkout, how would you rate your service?

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