Canadian Retailers Are Running from Self-Checkout: Manufacturers Pay Attention and Optimize

Ahhh self-checkout. We all thought it would be the “win” right? Innovation, faster service and, of course, reduced labour costs. Self-checkout was touted as potentially replacing the need to have retail employees at all checkout counters.

Well, the opposite has proven to be the case with many major national and international retailers deciding to bow out of the self-checkout game. Some of the reasons include:

  1. Maintenance cost of technology (terminals and supporting software).
  2. Inventory management issues at point of sale.
  3. Technical issues impacting customer experience at point of sale.
  4. Increases in loss between theft and harried customers.

The list goes on.

Major retailers like Walmart Canada, Giant Tiger and Canadian Tire are all on the list of major Canadian retailers who are considering or are in the process of doing away with self-checkout. In fact, Canadian Tire has completely removed self-checkout from six locations.

Manufacturers: Why should you be paying attention to this trend?

Because if your products are listed at some of these retailers and they are realizing they have a problem, so do you! Their customers are your customers. When self-checkout results in merchandising issues your customers have bad experiences with your brand and often will shift loyalty for an alternative product in a moment where they cannot easily obtain yours.

This happens in the most basic ways that can include:

  • Customers scan the same product 15 times, meanwhile what they are purchasing is the same product in different colours or flavours.
  • Customers get to checkout and a skew does not read or match the advertised price.
  • Problems checking out can lead the customer to choose a different product quickly because purchasing yours is too difficult.

So, what can you do?

Be a proactive manufacturer and do your part to protect your customers’ experience when trying to purchase your product(s).

Identify retailers that have indicated self-checkout is not working in their businesses and, if your products are sold there, beef up your merchandising.

Ensure you have a proper merchandising strategy that includes adequate coverage. This is something that can be easily outsourced at a fraction of the cost of building a national merchandising team.

As retailers continue to move away from self-checkout, this is a valuable opportunity to get ahead of their issues and mitigate those impacts on your customers and sales.

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