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Self-service checkouts' growing take-up in non-food

Wilkinsons is the latest non-food retailer to embrace self-service checkouts as it pilots the technology in six stores prior to a likely deployment around its nationwide estate. by Glynn Davis


Self-service checkouts' growing take-up in non-food

Speaking with Helen Wilde, sales manager at Wincor Nixdorf at the IT provider's Wincor World 2010 European event in Germany this week, she confirmed that five of the stores are larger outlets so an initial roll-out will be to its bigger outlets.
Because it added a sixth unit to its
pilot, at one of its smaller stores, she says the company clearly recognises the value of the technology in all stores.This confidence in self-checkout in the non-food category is driven largely by customer demand.
The move follows the adoption of the technology by a growing number of non-food operators including B&Q and Boots. "Customer adoption is the main driver and after DIY sector the next big area will be convenience.Then it could be low-cost fashion (where the clothese are not wrapped in tissue). We'll see some stores moving to almost 100 per cent selef-service," explains Wilde.
There have also been some major improvements in the software that powers the units.This has resulted in cashiers spending only 15 per cent of their time helping customers at each self-checkout unit, compared with around 25 per cent in the earlier days of the technology.
Non-food retailers have also been helped by the improvement in the 'weight learning databases', which are used by all self check-out devices to compare the weight of the item placed on the unit's scales with the correct weight held by the retailer in its database. This improved accuracy has helped reduce the issue of shrinkage and enabled the business model stack-up for all types of merchants.
Also helping the return-on-investment issue is the development of the latest self-service units to 'recycle' cash. Wilde says this enables cash that has been payed-in to then be used to pay-out change to other shoppers. This drastically reduces cash handling charges for retailers.
"Retailers in the UK who have recently chosen to deploy self-service have gone with recycling machines. They have a higher unit cost but the total cost of ownership is lower," says Wilde.
Such has been the benefits of the new generation of self-service technologies that Wilde predicts there will even be a return by retailers to using hand held self-scanning devices to be used alongside self-service checkouts.

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