Company News • 02.02.2018

NCR is saying goodbye to the infamous “unexpected item in the bagging area”

NCR celebrates the 20th anniversary of its self-checkout and gives a glimpse of future innovations

NCR Corporation (NYSE: NCR), the global leader in omni-channel solutions, is celebrating the 20th anniversary of its first self-checkout installation and looking at what the future will bring for the technology. Amongst others, NCR is tackling the infamous “unexpected item in the bagging area” with recent innovations.

Since NCR installed its first self-checkout in-store on January 20, 1998 in Kansas, self-checkouts have become the biggest queue buster for small to medium transactions in retailing – and a part of pop culture. Research firm RBR forecasts that by 2022, there will be nearly 400,000 self-checkout machines installed by retailers across more than 60 countries worldwide, a global installation growth of 53 percent from 2016.

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Photo: left: Woman at historical self-checkout terminal; right: self-service...
Source: NCR GmbH

Today’s self-checkouts are almost unrecognizable versus the early days of the technology. The first self-checkouts were bulky items that took their design cues from ATMs and delivered an awkward experience. But over time, what the ATM did in making fundamental changes to banking, self-checkout did for retail.

Photo: Historical self-checkout terminal from the late nineties; copyright: NCR...
NCR's historical self-checkout terminal from the late nineties
Source: NCR GmbH

Just five years after it installed its first self-checkout, NCR became the leader in the market, and today has a 73 percent market share according to RBR’s Global EPOS and Self-Checkout 2017 study, with its offerings available in 39 countries.

Dusty Lutz, vice president and general manager of Store Transformation Solutions at NCR, said “NCR’s success in self-checkout can be attributed to our one guiding principle: we don’t start with the technology, but how we transform the retailer’s store. We’ve spent the last 20 years working with customers to constantly improve our products, making them more accurate and easy-to-use to provide the best possible shopper experience.”

Today, the newest NCR self-checkout models make use of the latest innovations in technology to address one of the most familiar issues in the self-checkout experience – the “unexpected item in the bagging area”. The latest NCR models are moving away from weight-based detection systems to intelligent image scanners that can recognize items placed on the scanner. As well as removing the pain of the weight-based security alert, these scanners have the additional benefit of making the scanning of non-barcoded items such as fresh fruit and vegetables easier, as the technology can offer suggestions for what the item might be, instead of requiring users to move through menus on the interface.

Photo: Person operating a self-checkout terminal; copyright: NCR GmbH...
Source: NCR GmbH

Retailers also benefit as the technology can detect 'item swapping' theft. For example, if a user tries to scan a bottle of wine with a barcode for a bunch of bananas, the machine can spot that and alert staff, helping tackle one of merchants' biggest worries about the technology.

The NCR FastLane SelfServ™ Checkout was recognised with a 2017 GOOD DESIGN award for excellence in product design. The award highlights how NCR’s retail offerings provide consumers with convenient checkout options that help retailers transform their stores into the central hub of the shopping experience, providing a smoother, connected and convenient customer journey.

More information on the journey of NCR’s self-checkout can be found here.

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