Self-Checkout: Putting the Power in Customers’ Hands

By Antonio Castilho

Examples around the world have shown how self-service can bolster customer satisfaction and connect companies' digital and physical strategies

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Ed. Note: This article was previously posted at IoP Journal.

Learn a new recipe. Research everything before deciding which new cell phone to buy.  Build your own playlist. If there is one concept that has gained prominence in our lives in recent years, it is certainly the logic of “do it yourself” (DIY). Among the many changes brought about by the digital revolution, access to technology has allowed power to be increasingly put in our own hands—and that includes the time of payment.

In an ever experience-oriented world, what people most want is to have an easy, practical and safe service proposal. In this scenario, self-checkout is a fundamental way to take physical retail to the future, especially when we think about the context brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, in which safety, hygiene and distancing precautions were reinforced in the routine of consumers.

Self-Service for Retail Payment

Antonio Castilho

Antonio Castilho

In this scenario, offering self-service for payment has proved to be an essential solution for a number of reasons. Among them, we can highlight the possibility of building more convenient journeys for customers, by avoiding unnecessary contacts and risks, and of providing more efficiency for shopkeepers and buyers—allowing, for example, store service teams to focus on helping customers at other moments of the shopping experience.

It is not by chance, according to research by Global Market Insights, that the self-service market is expected to grow by approximately 11 percent per year until 2027. Until then, it is estimated that investments in technologies of this type will exceed the mark of $6.5 billion globally, compared to approximately $3.5 billion in 2020. From the customers’ point of view, the adoption of self-checkout tools means a step forward in simplifying and streamlining the purchase process. The gain, however, can go beyond that, by allowing companies to think about ways to ensure that personalized offers can be applied to each customer—to reinforce loyalty, for example.

Merchants, therefore, should view self-service checkouts as an opportunity to reduce the friction of their offer and, above all, as a shortcut to integrate and maximize services. Including more intelligence and automation in payments is a way to bring physical service closer to the practicality and speed of online commerce. This is especially the case in Brazil, where citizens do not leave their lives outside their homes behind. According to data from a survey promoted by the consultancy Box1824, for example, more than half of all Brazilians say they prefer to do their shopping at physical stores, even if it’s in a different way to what was done before.

Innovation Beyond eCommerce

In other words, it is important for retailers to understand that innovation initiatives should not focus solely and exclusively on the virtual space and for ecommerce. On the contrary, marketers need to understand that the real world will continue to be a key component of business, even with the growing power of digital in the consumer’s routine. It is this reality that self-checkout solutions address by simplifying the integration of online and offline commerce.

By installing self-service, retailers are creating a smarter, more convenient and faster environment for consumers—and potentially safer and centered on each person’s history. This is because the most modern and connected terminals are capable of, among other things, allowing the consolidation of promotions that are aligned with buyers’ profile and consumption history, following their complete journey—what they have seen or bought-store, or virtually via apps, and other in-store activities. In that way, retailers can drive compelling loyalty programs.

The same scenario applies to banks. Modern self-service tools represent the chance to promote specific marketing campaigns, or to provide rates and credit conditions that are much more personalized and in line with each client’s score. In addition, these machines rely on advanced technologies, such as RFID and NFC, to be managed and supported with more precision, boosting the availability of services even in peak moments or unforeseen situations.

All of these are advantages that we must keep in mind when we think about innovation for retail. There are already dozens of successful examples spread across the planet, showing how self-service can reinforce customer satisfaction and connect digital and physical strategies. That’s what matters, because there is no longer doubt that strategies should not be thought of in different silos.

In an increasingly omnichannel world, with multiple platforms sharing the same information, it is necessary to create a safe and efficient ecosystem. But it is this same hyper-connected world that we must keep in mind. We need to remember that wherever they go, customers insist on having decision-making power and experience always at their disposal and within reach.

Antonio Castilho is the retail manager at Diebold Nixdorf Brasil.