You may have noticed them at the big-box stores like Wal-Mart and Target. Where the express lanes used to be you can now find self-service checkout stations that allow customers to scan all their own products, bag them up how they like, pick their favorite payment method, and then grab the receipt and walk out the door. Big companies are embracing this technology first because the full-service stations can be expensive and they have a large volume of customers, but more independent and local businesses should consider if their retail locations could benefit from self-service stations.
The first thing to know is that the demand for self-service stations is growing. Consumers were wary of the devices at first, but over time the companies providing these stations have ironed out some early bugs and shoppers have figured out how to use them. Self-checkout stations give shoppers control over how they pack their bags, plus they don’t have to interact with someone to buy a product they consider embarrassing. Small businesses can tap into this growing demand by providing a self-checkout experience when most other small-scale companies still use older technology.
Another way self-service technology is advancing is through kiosks in restaurants and cafés. You can already order ahead at many restaurants by placing an order online or through a mobile app, but in some restaurants you can also place an order by tapping through a touch-screen menu in a small kiosk on the restaurant premises. This allows customers to order food at their own speed instead of needing to wave down a waiter when they’re ready. The kiosks can also accept special orders and payments, which means they double as a POS.
A small business can’t buy half a dozen self-checkout stations like the ones used at Wal-Mart. The equipment is expensive, plus you need space that a small retail business can’t always spare. However, there are more mobile and space-friendly POS devices that can work as self-checkout systems, especially if you’re willing to use a machine that only handles cards and electronic payments. You still need someone to keep an eye on the machines and your customers, but one person can watch several self-service checkout devices.
Older generations still don’t like self-service retail and restaurant devices, but Millennials and younger age groups are quickly embracing the technology. If your business markets to younger customers, you may want to invest in self-service stations and kiosks. It lowers labor costs, speeds up checkout times, and appeals to the customers you want to attract.