Blog: Scan, Bag and Go—Self-Scanning Technology Empowers Consumers to Shop with Ease

May 31, 2019  |  CARL VON SYDOW

When consumers can scan, bag and go at a retailer rather than waiting in a cashier line for service, they gain an innovative and personalized shopping experience—and the store reels in more revenue and ROI. Self-scanning is a fast-growing concept that is interrupting the way brick-and-mortar retailers have traditionally interacted with consumers. In fact, the expected annual growth rate for self-scanning software is more than 14 percent, according to research agency VDC.

In areas where self-scanning was adopted 10 to 20 years ago, a substantial number of consumers are embracing the technology. For example, up to 35 percent of consumers use hand-held self-scanners while shopping in Sweden, Switzerland, Belgium and the Netherlands. In the United States, progressive grocers are ramping up self-scanning capabilities significantly. In 2017, 8.5 percent of grocers offered self-scanning devices, and that number jumped to 24.3 percent in 2018.

Sold on Self-Scanning—The Benefits

Why offer self-scanning technology to consumers? According to VDC Research (2015), European retailers noted larger basket sizes and a 10-percent overall revenue increase when they deployed hand-held self-scanning devices in store. Shoppers are more likely to add items to their basket when a self-scanner alerts them of store deals or suggests items that fit their profile. In general, ROI for self-scanning technology is achieved within 18 to 24 months.

The real benefit and impetus for adopting self-scanning is the appeal to consumers. They perceive it as a way to: 1) save time while checking out; 2) enjoy a personalized experience with a scanner that “knows” them; and 3) shop in real-time without the extra step of a cashier.

With all these self-scanning benefits, what’s the holdup for retailers that haven’t moved on the technology?

Consumer Adoption—Overcoming the No. 1 Self-Scanning Hurdle

Consumers are, in a way, their own worst enemy in accessing a convenient, innovative technology that can revolutionize and personalize a retail experience. Consumers need time—time to experiment with the technology, time to learn it.

Retailers need support and resources: plenty of available devices—a surplus—and help for consumers who are just learning how to use self-scanning devices. Retailers can help consumers comfortably adopt self-scanning as a new way to shop if they are prepared. Here are three ways retailers can overcome primary challenges.

#1 Sell the Concept

Give consumers and retail staff time to test and play with the technology so they can experience how it works. Basically, you’re asking consumers to learn a new habit, and this takes time. Emphasize ease of use with clear, concise how-to instructions. Sufficiently staff the store so there are plenty of “pros” on hand to answer consumers’ questions.

#2 Support Self-Scanning

Beyond the device, other tools are required to make a self-scanning campaign successful. Those include bag racks, cart brackets to hold scanners and dedicated pay stations. Be sure to stock a surplus of devices that are visible at the store entry. Put systems in place for scanning items that could be perceived as challenging, such as produce codes or non-barcoded items that must be weighed. Also, consider self-scanning loyalty programs to reward consumers who adopt the technology.

#3 Implement Friendly Security

Self-scanning shoppers don’t want to feel scrutinized as they leave the store. Explain that “soft” safety checks could take place, such as a staff member re-scanning some items to verify purchases. Keep in mind, when self-scanning technology incorporates the right algorithms and business knowledge, retailers can reduce random checks and improve customer experience. Shrinkage does not have to be a concern when proper measures are put in place.

In a retail world that’s undergoing major change and being challenged by intense online competition, winning brick-and-mortar retailers will be those who embrace innovation and give shoppers ways to create their own journeys in store. Self-scanning is one tool to achieve this goal.

Empower retail customers to shop and check out when and how they want—no holdup in a cashier line. Download the Diebold Nixdorf Self-Scanning Solution Playbook to explore how self-scanning technology can redefine, modernize and personalize the customer experience you deliver.

This article originally appeared in Progressive Grocer.

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