In a Retail Times exclusive, Leyla Feghhi, retail marketing director at self-checkout supplier, Wincor Nixdorf, reveals why the technology is poised for growth and the retailer benefits
Self-checkout technology is forecast to double in Europe in the next four years, according to leading supplier Wincor Nixdorf.
Growth will be driven by expansion in existing large format stores, new self-checkout concepts aimed at big trolley shoppers, new retail markets and smaller retail outlets, it says.
Figures from consulting firm, Retail Banking Research (RBR) show North America is the largest market for self-checkout with 90,000 units currently installed. Its dominance is due to early adoption, a large store base and big format stores.
However, Western Europe is catching up. According to RBR, there are around 30,000 units in Western Europe. The UK has the lion’s share with 20,000 units, followed by France and then Italy.
Elsewhere, countries including Spain, the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium are ramping up their self-checkout installations.
“The market is growing and the expectations are it will double in Europe in the next four years,” says Leyla Feghhi, retail marketing director at Wincor Nixdorf.
While growth has previously been driven by installations in hypermarkets and large supermarkets, new channels will drive future development, says Feghhi.
However, expansion of self-checkout technology in hypermarkets will still play a role.
According to Feghhi, hypermarket retailers are poised to replace more traditional lanes with self-checkout as customers are now familiar and comfortable with the concept.
In addition, hypermarkets and larger supermarkets are looking to introduce new self-checkout concepts, which meet the needs of big trolley shoppers. Currently, self-checkout caters for basket shoppers with five to 10 items or so. Now retailers are keen to provide solutions for trolley shoppers with 100-plus items.
Wincor Nixdorf’s 360 Scan Portal is an automatic scanning solution, which addresses this need.
It uses an ordinary checkout belt to process a customer’s shopping but items are scanned by a 360˚ scanner rather than a checkout operator. According to Feghhi, the 360 Scan Portal can scan 60 items per minute and is twice as fast as a regular checkout.
Feghhi says the concept offers the look and feel of a traditional checkout and installation is relatively easy. It can also be accommodated in stores where other checkout formations may not be suitable, she says.
Feghhi reports the 360 Scan Portal is being piloted in a Rewe supermarket in Germany and at ICA, one of the largest retail chains in Sweden.
While grocery has led the field in terms of self-checkout take up, acceptance in other retail segments is winning traction and poised for growth, says Wincor Nixdorf.
Furniture and DIY are two target markets, says Feghhi. These large outlets face similar challenges to hypermarkets but require individual solutions since items are larger and non-standard, she says.
The fourth potential growth market is smaller outlets such as convenience stores, which are introducing self-checkout as a new service for shoppers.
Wincor Nixdorf, a leading and growing player in self-checkout in Europe, is aiming to grow across channels and marketplaces, says Feghhi.
It has recently launched a US-specific checkout in collaboration with a leading US retail furniture manufacturer, Royston, for example. According to Feghhi, the unit has been adapted to the look and feel of the US market.
The company is also targeting emerging self-checkout markets, such as Asia Pacific; alongside Europe.
New retail segments are also key for the business, says Feghhi. Ikea, for example, has rolled out Wincor Nixdorf’s solution on a worldwide basis; and the business is exploring opportunities in DIY and convenience retail too.
Consumer acceptance of self-checkout is critical for future development and it varies from market to market, says Feghhi.
In Italy, for instance, mobile shopping has high acceptance so mobile self-scanning is widespread, she says. It’s a similar scenario in the Netherlands, Feghhi adds. In other markets, acceptance has grown as the technology has been established over the years.
However, retailer involvement and support is essential for success, says Wincor Nixdorf.
“Retailers do need to use marketing and educate employees and customers in order to penetrate usage of the solution,” says Feghhi.
It is also a fallacy self-checkout is not a solution for older shoppers, she says.
“Older people like the solution. They are happy to try and have the time to do their checkout – there’s no pressure in the checkout queue to be faster. Older people also get more support from the assistants in the store, therefore acceptance is greater.”
Retailer and customer benefits
According to Feghhi, Wincor Nixdorf works with retailers to share experiences and best practice in both training and marketing. The company is also keen to promote the benefits of self-checkout.
For the retailer, it is about offering their customers more choice in their checkout options and that there will always be lanes open to cover peak trading times, she says.
Additionally, self-checkout units don’t need to be prepared, like an ordinary checkout lane, and they automate secondary processes such as cash counting, saving both time and costs.
According to Wincor Nixdorf, the average return on investment is 16 months to two years.
Critically, self-checkout enables a retailer to refocus employees in other areas of the store in order to improve the shopping experience, says Feghhi.
Self-checkout also helps to portray an image of an innovative retailer, she adds.
From a customer perspective, advantages include choice, speed and privacy with regard to their purchases.
As retailers develop and evolve, so too must the checkout solutions, however. According to Feghhi, new developments currently under the microscope include convertible checkouts, which switch between self-service and service modes; plus reducing the unit size to fit into smaller stores. “Footprint is always a topic,” she smiles.
With so many options on the radar, the future for self-checkout looks assured.