Joining the end of a long queue at the checkout? If consumers could make the decisions, that would be a thing of the past. They need an efficient way to do their shopping, such as self-scan systems and self-checkouts. But how exactly do these and other variations on the theme of Frictionless Checkout resonate with consumers and high-volume retailers? We discuss all this and more in a brand-new episode of Ctalk.

Retailers are coming under pressure

You can’t disagree with Hos when you look at the convenience of self-scanning and self-checkout – whether you scan your products at the self-checkout but still pay at a physical checkout, or you do it all yourself at the self-checkout. The popularity of these initiatives is putting pressure on retailers. “If you choose not to offer it, then customers will vote with their feet”, says Hos, who was joined by Ivo van den Raad, Business Unit Manager XV Retail at Ctac. “The statistics don’t lie. If consumers have to stand in a checkout queue for more than seven minutes, they start thinking about walking out of the store.”

Although the pressure on retailers to offer self-service initiatives is growing, that doesn’t mean they have to give way. “Shopping is and remains a social activity. If you as a retailer offer only self-service, you’ll definitely drive some customers away”, says Germen Schuiling, Process Owner Checkout & Payments at Action. “In short, it’s important to find the right balance between self-service and physical checkouts.”

Collaborate on security

Although self-service offers many benefits, there are still risks involved. Self-checkout means cashiers are no longer involved in the checkout process, which can significantly increase the risk of shoplifting. How do you as a retailer best respond to this? “With a combination of technology and psychology. With technology alone, you can in theory make your store completely fraud-proof, but the question is then whether any consumers will still want to shop there”, Schuiling explains. “It’s mainly about making consumers more aware of the potential consequences. It’s also important both to let people know and to show them. So make sure that consumers are aware that you carry out random checks, and then do these openly. This raises the bar for shoplifters.”

However, according to others round the table, including Hos and Van den Raad, the security aspect of self-service remains a sensitive issue. “A lot is being developed using technology, while at the same time very little is put into practice”, says Hos, seconded by Van den Raad: “I saw pictures in the news from consumers who were literally explaining how they could take products home without paying for them. This means they are more creative than the technology in use currently.” The solution? Hos: “Collaboration. Retailers often hold their cards close to their chest when it comes to security. But just like Action, Albert Heijn or Jumbo, share information to see what works and what doesn’t, and take collective steps forward in the area of security.”

Make the cashless store a success

While self-scanning and self-checkout are popular variants of Frictionless Checkout, developments in this area are not limited to these options. For example, Żabka, a Polish-Czech chain of small franchise stores, have opened one cashless store after the other. This innovative concept also spread to the Netherlands, where the Aldi Shop & Go in the centre of Utrecht became the first cashless store in July 2022. However, with customers staying away, the Aldi store wasn’t particularly successful. Does that tell us that the cashless store is short-lived hype rather than a real idea for the future? No, says Hos. “With better onboarding, Aldi could have been much more successful. As of now, customers can only shop there if they link their Aldi app to their credit card. That’s just too much effort.”

Hos and the other speakers, on the other hand, certainly don’t want to write off cashless stores. Van den Raad sums it up in a nutshell: “You have to create added value for the consumer. And as a retailer, you have to look at product, location and price. Personally, I think we’ll quickly see cashless stores that are open 24/7 in inner cities, stations and airports. But you’ll always need to stand out to persuade customers to walk into your store.”