Rick Segal posted a blog talking about the pros of self-serve checkouts. The cost for them is coming down. They never have a lousy attitude. They are cheaper to maintain than paying an employee. Rick even goes so far as to say that all retailers should be utilizing every option that saves them money.
Do you agree?
As a specialty independent retailer the one advantage you have over the competition is service. Incredible, over-the-top, WOW service. Sometimes that costs money.
The checkout is the final memory your customer has of your store. It is the takeaway, the lasting image they will have. Are you willing to give that over to a machine?
Sure, I get Rick's premise that a bad attitude at checkout can be harmful. Equally so, an awesome experience at checkout can cement a customer for life. A machine cannot give an awesome experience.
At its best, self-serve checkout is neutral. It didn't piss off the customer. But you and I have had plenty of experiences where self-serve checkout has been less than its best.
My wife has learned not to send me to Kroger. I will not go. I have had such horrible experiences with their scanners that I cannot stand the thought of shopping there. Yet almost every time I have gone the only lane open is self-serve. Apparently other people are complaining, too. Kroger is taking out their self-serve lanes in Texas as an experiment.
Albertson's grocery is also removing their self-serve lanes. They have seen average transactions drop at their stores since they put those lanes in. I would venture to guess it is because people would rather buy less than have to scan so many items themselves.
To give WOW service to your customers you just need to train your cashiers the same way you train your sales staff. Get everyone on the same page with the same goal. Give the customer an experience so wonderful she has to tell her friends.
You cannot get that from a cold, impersonal video screen.
PS I outline exactly how to give WOW Customer Service at the checkout in my free eBook Customer Service: From Weak to WOW!
PPS I hate the Kroger experience so much that I have been begging my local grocery store to carry the three items we eat regularly that we can currently only find at Kroger. I know they can get those items for me. But they don't. Hmmm... Might be another blog post in there.