Parkview Retail director Richard Inglis discusses introducing self checkout systems at his business.

We have been operating Self Checkout Systems (SCOs) in our three Southampton stores for over 18 months now. So, are they worth installing?

Richard Inglis

The first thing I always point out to retailers when they come to visit our stores is that SCOs will only work if you change the way you operate. It is not a simple install and your customers and business will change overnight. Training both your team and customers is key to their success.

In the first few weeks after install we found our team were competing with the SCOs, calling customers away from using a SCO to their maned till. The team had to change the way they worked, they no longer needed to spend 60-70% of their time serving on tills. This time could now be better spent on the shop floor. It is a totally different way of operating and such a large change in your operation will take time plus perseverance!

Today the focus in our stores has become all about floor standards. The stores are cleaner, we have fewer gaps and deliveries are always finished in less than a few hours rather than six or more! Customers were able to chat with our team on the shop floor, rather than at the tills. As a result we have more time to spend with them and are able to answer questions before they get to the tills (the point at which they have finished). The worse time to answer a customer question is at the tills. By this point they are leaving and far less likely to turn round and start the process again.

Pre Covid-19, about 65% of all transactions were on SCO. Today this figure is nearly 85%. This has helped our team socially distance whilst at the same time preventing staff handling a customer’s purchases. Our customers have really appreciated having this option. One of the surprising changes was the large numbers of older customers who have now started using them and they have really taken to it. Once a customer uses one they are normally converted to long term users.

SCOs in our stores are always manned by one team member – to operate correctly you do need someone about to help! Also queues in general are a thing of the past, it is quiet something seeing one team member serving five customers at the same time. Now that customer who just wants a drink can be in and out in seconds. Not everyone wants to chat or wait for your cashier to chat to the customer in front…