By Doug Baker, Vice President, Industry Relations, FMI

Self Checkout

At least once a week someone asks me to predict the future of self-checkout. So, here it is—self-checkout is here to stay. I said it! Here’s why I stand by that statement.

Research On Self-Checkout Trends

According to The Food Retailing Industry Speaks 2023, the biggest shift regarding self-check-out trends came in 2021 when shoppers used self-checkout for 30% of transactions, nearly doubling since 2018. At the same time, 96% of retailers surveyed offered self-checkout. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is unsurprising that shoppers were using self-checkout to avoid human contact and that food retailers were giving shoppers the option. In 2022, the share of transactions through self-checkout remained steady indicating shoppers still enjoy having the option.

Offering Shopper Choice

The front-end of the grocery store is part of the in-store grocery shopping experience. Some shoppers want to interact with an associate, but others want to scan and bag themselves. Others might only have a couple of items and want to get in and get out of the store quickly. As long as shoppers want different options for checking out, food retailers will offer them a choice, which includes offering self-checkout as an option.

The Evolution of Self-Checkout

I know what you’re thinking, “Yes, Doug, choice is important, but what about shrink happening at self-checkout?” Shrink at shelf-checkout is a concern, and not all shrink is theft – shrink could be mischaracterizing a piece of produce in the database or even accidentally dropping one’s eggs in the scanning process. Therefore, we’re seeing food retailers experiment by testing new systems, applying new technologies, and incorporating AI into self-checkout. I think we’ll continue to see food retailers finetune their self-checkout experiences with reducing shrink in mind, but I don’t think our members will reconsider their investments in shelf-checkout. Instead, there will be more customer education about these enhanced self-checkout options that will help the self-checkout experience evolve.

More to Come

Self-checkout will be among the hot topics discussed at the upcoming Asset Protection & Grocery Resilience Conference, May 20 – 23 in Dallas, Texas. This event will bring together food industry peers to collaborate and plan on all aspects of protecting people, property and productivity. I look forward to debating the future of self-checkout with you on-site.

Asset Protection & Grocery Resilience Conference