Self-Checkout Machines Advantages and Disadvantages

Angela Barlow


Self-checkouts are popular these days, as many retail stores have adopted them over the past two decades.

Overall, self-checkouts add a lot of value to the shopping experience. But, they aren’t without their drawbacks. Here are some of the self-checkout’s biggest advantages and disadvantages.

Key Advantages of Self-Checkout Stations

disadvantages of self-service checkouts

Quicker Checkout Process

Are self-checkouts actually faster than a traditional register? The Washington Post performed an experiment and found that, on average, checking out with 5 items through a self-checkout station took less than two minutes.

Compare this to waiting in a long line with 5 items at a grocery store that doesn’t have a self-checkout option. While the customer’s checkout process will be quick, those in front may take longer.

Self-checkouts allow people with minimal items to bypass these long lines for a much faster checkout experience.

Reduced Labor Costs

It stands to reason that if more customers are using self-checkouts, retail stores don’t need as many employees at those stations. This may help reduce their labor costs, which they can put towards other areas of their business.

In line with this benefit, instead of employees spending time waiting at registers, they can be out doing other tasks, which will help increase efficiency while decreasing redundancies.

It’s Been Widely Adopted By Customers

Here’s perhaps one of the biggest reasons for incorporating self-checkouts into a retail store: The majority of consumers have used them and enjoy using them.

According to mobile device management firm SOTI, 73% of the 526 shoppers surveyed said they prefer to use retail self-service technologies. In addition, millennials also have a high adoption rate for self-checkout, with a 2018 report stating 91% of them have used one before.

Disadvantages of Self-Checkout Stations

They Can Cost a Pretty Penny

The up-front costs of a self-checkout can be steep. This can make it difficult for smaller retail outlets to afford the initial investment. But, the demand for them is so high, with many consumers preferring them, that they feel they must purchase them regardless of how far it sets them back.

Increased Risk of Theft

Unfortunately, with the addition of self-checkout comes more opportunities for thieves. For example, companies in the past have been targeted by thieves using what are known as “skimmers.”

These devices are attached to card readers and record all the information from cards swiped by customers. A micro-camera then captures the PIN. These devices are more often seen on gas pumps or ATM machines; however, they are now becoming an issue at some self-checkout stations. It’s important to have security measures implemented to mitigate the risk of skimmers.

Security measures should also be taken to limit opportunities for shoppers to switch barcodes, weigh expensive items like produce, or other tricks thieves may try.

Customer Confusion

Self-checkouts may also come with a bit of a learning curve. Furthermore, a device may experience a bug every now and then. For example, telling the user that there is an unexpected item found in the bagging area when, in fact, there isn’t.

However, errors like these are not especially common. If there is a mistake or glitch, having an employee nearby ready to resolve the issue quickly is important.

Not Enough Space

Self-checkouts do require a bit of real estate as well. For smaller stores, they simply may not have enough space to make it work.

Working with ENS can help bypass this problem. At ENS, we offer customized self-checkout infrastructure solutions so you can build the perfect self-checkout based on your needs.

Some self-checkout machines may be too bulky or offer more bells and whistles than you may need. With ENS, you can choose exactly what types of functions you’re looking for and how much space you have. To get starting on creating a self-checkout station that perfectly suits your store, contact ENS today!


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