Interview • 12.02.2020

Effective and Independent

Present and future of self-checkout

Better use of personnel, lowering overhead costs while still providing customers with a smooth and seamless shopping experience – that’s what every retailer strives to accomplish. For Thomas Dibbern, CEO of ALMEX GmbH, there is an obvious solution to make this a reality and it is called “self-checkout”. We sat down with him and talked about customer expectations and discussed the promise of technology and the future of retail.

Mr. Dibbern, what are the current trends and developments for checkout solutions?

Thomas Dibbern: Not much has changed in brick-and-mortar retail since the first barcode scanner was introduced at checkouts several decades ago. Retailers only added new payment methods and readers for customer loyalty programs along the way. Having said that, we now expect to see drastic changes in the next few years thanks to new digital technologies and an increasing importance of customer self-service.

Self-Checkout payment system
Self-Checkout payment system
Source: FORMAT-Tresorbau Gmbh & Co. KG

Why do you think self-checkouts are becoming a popular choice?

Various factors play a role in this setting: On the one hand, retailers continue to face rising cost pressures, which forces them to look for strategic steps to cost reduction and savings. On the other hand, a good portion of the population wants greater efficiency and ”independence”. The desire to speed up the checkout process and take an active approach rather than dealing with waiting in long lines at the checkout is –among other things - also driven by the consumer’s online shopping experience.

Demographic changes are likewise impacting the popularity of self-checkout stations. The limited number of team members must be used in the most effective way and that means engaging more extensively in customer service versus the checkout area. In the case of the latter, associates only get in touch with customers at a point where they have already made their purchase decision.

However, it’s ultimately the new digital technologies that promise to increase consumer acceptance of self-checkout solutions: For example, once produce is automatically recorded via visual object recognition or packaged goods no longer have to be scanned using the EAN code, self-checkout becomes an opportunity to enhance the customer experience.

How does Germany compare to other countries? Who are the pioneers of this technology?

Over the past years, self-checkout solutions tended to stay on the sidelines in Germany. Meanwhile, they are far more common in England, Switzerland or in the Scandinavian countries. One of the reasons for this is that the increased application of cashless payment methods in said countries makes the use of self-checkouts less complex and subsequently less expensive compared to Germany where cash still tends to be the lifeblood of brick-and-mortar retail.

What solutions does Almex offer in this area?

In the past 18 months, we have developed a number of solutions that support a variety of different retail usage scenarios. One of our solutions is a large-scale self-checkout terminal that is optimized for use in full-line grocery stores. After all, bigger purchases simply require more space, allowing consumers to place the merchandise on the weight scale platform.

We also developed self-checkout units with a smaller footprint, making it possible to replace a traditional cashier-staffed checkout with four self-checkout terminals. What’s more, we also offer a so-called hybrid self-checkout system: at peak times, the terminal can either be used as a fully assisted cashier lane or it can be converted to a self-service cash register in a few simple, easy steps.

Man with red hair
Thomas Dibbern
Source: Thomas Dibbern

Where do you see areas of improvement when it comes to checkout systems from a customer’s perspective?

I prefer and expect a high level of efficiency and independence as a consumer. These expectations are primarily met in today’s online shopping settings. Having said that, I am also an avowed supporter of brick-and-mortar businesses: I genuinely value the customer-service and being able to try and touch items. I treasure the physical shopping experience. If we can tackle the drawbacks of brick-and-mortar retailing – including too much time spent being “inactive" at the checkout, which often prompts customers to put their purchases back on the shelf -, we would have made a big step towards improving the retail checkout landscape in the brick-and-mortar sector.

Care to give us a sneak preview? Which products will you showcase at EuroShop 2020? 

Our trade fair appearance focuses on the motto "Security and Efficiency for your Digital Future". We will present a variety of modular self-checkout systems. They are available as both a cashless version and in combination with cash recycling solutions. The ergonomically well-thought-out design of our terminals is a unique selling point. Our systems meet the ADA requirements for accessibility in the U.S. market for example.

We will also showcase our solutions for object and age detection at the self-service checkout. One of our goals is to drastically decrease intervention at the self-checkout that requires an action by a staff member. We achieve this goal by partially automating the age verification process pertaining to the purchase of alcohol and tobacco products.

At EuroShop, we will also highlight state-of-the-art solutions for software-based system integration, as well as present our full touch Android MDE devices, which will play an important role in the future of in-store retail customer service.

Looking ahead to the future: What will shopping look like in 20 years?

Brick-and-mortar stores and e-commerce will sustainably coexist in the future. Retailers will comprehensively use digital technologies to improve the in-store experience at their brick-and-mortar stores. The global rise of cashless payments and advances in image processing will make self-checkout systems more convenient. They will become standard and a familiar sight across the world. This will subsequently make concepts like "no checkout" or "seamless checkout" as promoted by Amazon Go redundant.

Interview: Sonja Koller

related articles:

popular articles:

Thumbnail-Photo: Electric vehicles for safe on-the-go food distribution during pandemic...
28.08.2020   #food retail #delivery

Electric vehicles for safe on-the-go food distribution during pandemic

Gallery E vehicles solve food service challenges at universities and corporate campuses this fall

Gallery, the leading innovator of mobile carts for food, beverage and retail businesses, has announced a unique partnership with AYRO, Inc. and Club Car to launch a new line of electric vehicles to help bring food, beverage, and retail merchandising ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Retail Asia Conference & Expo 2020 rescheduled to 11-13 November...
18.09.2020   #online trading #retail

Retail Asia Conference & Expo 2020 rescheduled to 11-13 November

New spacious exhibition location

Informa Markets, the organiser of Retail Asia Conference & Expo 2020, announced that the event will be further rescheduled from 17-19 November 2020, to 11-13 November 2020 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (HKCEC), Hong Kong.The ...

Thumbnail-Photo: SPAR grocery store embraces new technologies...
23.09.2020   #digitization #app

SPAR grocery store embraces new technologies

The store has implemented Delfi Technologies' cloud solution and mobile app to manage the store's electronic price tags

This year, the co-operative association Tikøb could celebrate its 100th anniversary. Today, the SPAR grocery store in Tikøb is one of the stores in the chain that is at the forefront when it comes to implementing new technology. Most ...

Thumbnail-Photo: IKI selects Reflexis Systems intelligent workforce management to...
13.10.2020   #personnel management #workforce deployment

IKI selects Reflexis Systems intelligent workforce management to optimize labour efficiency

Lithuanian retailer will work with StrongPoint to deploy Reflexis solutions in 228 stores and across 5,000 employees

Reflexis Systems (now part of Zebra Technologies), the leading provider of intelligent workforce management and execution solutions for multi-site businesses in retail, food service, hospitality and banking, today announced that IKI, one of ...

Thumbnail-Photo: New SALTO Neo Cylinder Microsite
11.09.2020   #access control #access control systems

New SALTO Neo Cylinder Microsite

Overview of main features and benefits

To enable potential users to discover more about its SALTO Neo electronic cylinder SALTO Systems, a leading manufacturer of electronic access control solutions, has launched a new microsite dedicated to the product.The compact SALTO Neo Cylinder is ...

Thumbnail-Photo: New chain of toy stores in strong collaboration...
29.09.2020   #brick and mortar retail #digitization

New chain of toy stores in strong collaboration

Kids Coolshop is booming with new toys stores in a pressured market where competition is fierce

The chain has started installing electronic shelf labels in its physical stores. The electronic price tags are linked to a strong e-commerce engine and must help ensure competitive prices across all channels.Kids Coolshop was launched in 2017 ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Shopping experience thanks to electronic shelf labels...
10.11.2020   #customer satisfaction #brick and mortar retail

Shopping experience thanks to electronic shelf labels

A unique customer experience at new danish gaming store

At the end of August 2020, Denmark's new gaming universe Games N 'Gadgets opened its doors to gamers and game-loving people in the center of Horsens city. Games N 'Gadgets offers everything within gaming, gadgets and computer ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Pricing with agility at Conrad Electronic
03.11.2020   #electronic shelf labels (ESL) #price labels

Pricing with agility at Conrad Electronic

Managing flexible prices with digital shelf label technology

As one of the leading European distributors of electronics and technology, it is important for Conrad Electronic to show the right price at the right time. The retailer has therefore implemented Delfi Technologies’ automatic pricing solution ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Offline stores sales in US department stores decline by 75% in Q2 2020...
25.09.2020   #e-commerce #brick and mortar retail

Offline stores sales in US department stores decline by 75% in Q2 2020

... as e-commerce is set to grow by 20% in 2020

According to the research data analyzed and published by StockApps.com, US department stores reported a 75% drop in sales during Q2 2020. The report estimated a decline of 60% for the whole year, while predicting a 20% increase in e-commerce for the ...

Thumbnail-Photo: APG Cash Management Solutions partners with Cashspeed...
19.11.2020   #cash management #cash drawers

APG Cash Management Solutions partners with Cashspeed

Helping retailers reduce the cost of managing cash at the point of sale

APG Cash Management (APG), a fast-growing global manufacturer of cash management solutions, announced today its partnership with French software firm, Cashspeed, which focuses on cash management and payments systems software. Now certified as a ...

Supplier

Axis Communications GmbH
Axis Communications GmbH
Adalperostraße 86
85737 Ismaning
POS TUNING Udo Voßhenrich GmbH & Co KG
POS TUNING Udo Voßhenrich GmbH & Co KG
Am Zubringer 8
32107 Bad Salzuflen
Delfi Technologies GmbH
Delfi Technologies GmbH
Landgraben 75
24232 Schönkirchen
SALTO Systems GmbH
SALTO Systems GmbH
Schwelmer Str. 245
42389 Wuppertal
Reflexis Systems GmbH
Reflexis Systems GmbH
Kokkolastr. 5-7
40882 Ratingen
APG Cash Drawer
APG Cash Drawer
4 The Drove
BN9 0LA Newhaven
Adasys GmbH – a Poindus Company
Adasys GmbH – a Poindus Company
Max-Planck-Straße 10
70806 Kornwestheim