Retailers & consumers are increasingly requesting self service options this year – in all parts of retail from fashion to grocery. Let’s make it a great experience

We’ve all seen them and used them – self checkouts, scanning devices and other self service shopping options. Some of us have even tried friction-less shopping, where there is no physical checkout available at all. Most of us like and want an efficient alternative to the manned checkout, but in many cases we end up spending fair amounts of time wrestling less cooperative machines when trying to go it alone. Our efforts often result in the Oh-so-annoying “place item in bagging area” message and a red light. Couldn’t it be done smoother?

It’s 17:50 on a Friday, and you’re shopping a handful of items for your planned catch up-dinner with friends. Then you suddenly spot the long queues at the checkout, and your heart drops. But then – you notice that the self checkout area is rather empty. “Yes!” You walk over thinking you’ll be out of the store in no time.

Imagine now that the self checkout machine displays a friendly “I’m free, lets begin” message – and thereafter guides you efficiently through scanning your items (including offering to help you sort out the apples that you forgot to weigh and tag). Imagine that the self checkout kiosk would make its requests in an informal and friendly manner, rather than using authoritative language and retail terms you don’t really understand.

Young woman with baby paying with self checkout

Envision that the self checkout’s screen would work much like your tablet at home – all items were easily scanned or found – and the payment was completed in a snap with a “New Bonus Points” notification added on your loyalty app, together with your digital receipt. No paper receipts, no wait time, no mistakes, no “call an attendant”, no embarrassments.

This is a possible scenario today, but let’s face it, it’s not your average experience.

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The retailer perspective

From a retailers point of view, self service channels offer great potential to satisfy consumer demand, decrease staff numbers on fixed locations, and in extension increase sales. Though there is a worrisome side to self service as well, such as losses from fraudulent behaviour, losses due to risking a cumbersome process for the consumer, manual interventions due to machine or human errors, age verifications and so on.

We know that the experience for the retailer matters just as much as the customer’s shopping experience. For that reason, we have designed solutions for remote monitoring and intervention for self-service – a system which enabled retailers and staff to see what’s scanned in real-time. Thanks to this solution, you can also remotely approve obvious age-verification cases without the customer ever noticing, and without staff being required to attend the customer’s self checkout machine.

Our team at Extenda Retail has developed fraud prevention that uses a host of parameters and determines if a client should be audited (re-scan) or not. It aggregates results over time per consumer, so good behaviour is rewarded by reducing re-scans, while also adding a random factor to the mix. This has been battle-tested for 10 years, and is constantly improved. We continuously research and develop additional measures in collaboration with our clients.

Our current focus is leveraging machine-learning to further increase the precision determining the audit threshold using behavioural science and computer vision technologies.

In conclusion, our vision is to offer the safest and most no-touch self-service channels out there for retailers, while giving customers the smoothest and most attractive shopping experience for. Welcome to our world.

Do you know how, where and when you want to meet your customers in the future? What’s your strategy for meeting the customer needs for self service.

 

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Sten Hallström

Principal Product Manager at Extenda Retail

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