This month I’d like to cover self checkouts. There are basically three types. Card only, as the name suggests, is a unit that only accepts debit and credit cards. These units can be pole-mounted or shelf-mounted. They’re a much lower cost unit than a traditional self checkout as seen in the likes of Tesco and Sainsbury’s.

Meanwhile, a standard self checkout has a range of options including scales and cash management as well as mounting for a pin entry device. One of the clever things about the software is that it can learn the weights of products.

These units will typically have a scale built in and a security platen that ensures that any product scanned is put into the bagging area. Money management may or may not be part of the unit. The more intelligent units will recycle all the coins contained within, alleviating the need to continually top-up the money pots.

Then there’s the hybrid/convertible which looks like a standard self checkout unit with money management. The primary difference and key USP is the fact that the unit can be utilised either as a self checkout or, by turning the top unit around, can be a POS unit that can be manned by a sales assistant. This is great for busy times.

Retailer objections to self checkouts include the ’what if the customer just steals the product?’ question. But if you think about it, the customer or ’thief’ has ample opportunity to steal anywhere in the shop.

When you have a bank of well-lit, prominent self-checkout units you need just one sales assistant to manage up to four units. This is where you can make major cost savings. With the Living Wage set to reach more than £9 an hour in a couple of years, cutting back on just one sales assistant could save you in the region of £20,000 pa. And evidence reveals that customers of all ages have no objection to self checkouts. Indeed the ’millennial’ prefers this type of transaction.

NCR is the world leader in this technology with something like 85% of all installations. It conducts a survey prior to any installation and this clearly details the percentage saving each store will make and therefore the payback period for the retailer.

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