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The rise of the Self-Service phenomenon

26 July 2018

The implementation of self-service technologies has revolutionised the retail and food service check-out and ordering experience. Customers can now order, pay, and have their chosen items available for collection or delivery with very little or, in some circumstances, no human interaction whatsoever. Whilst some businesses have chosen to go fully automated, other retailers are now searching for the perfect blend of personal customer service and self-checkout automation to ensure that they maximise the speed & efficiency of service for the customer as well as increase profit for the business.

There are several reasons as to why businesses should embrace new technology in the food service and retail sector. From cashless online payments, loyalty and customer engagement mobile apps to click and collect orders at food outlets – MCR Systems provide a complete and integrated software package to help businesses deliver on the efficiency of service and maximise on profit, time management as well as engage with, incentivise and revolutionise the customer journey and experience.


From humble beginnings

The original self-service till was created by David Humble in 1987. The “Automatic Checkout Machine” was showcased at a trade convention in Los Angeles and coined as “revolutionary”. Surprisingly, he had such faith in the usability of his product that the demonstration was carried out by an 11-year-old boy. This original focus on usability and self-empowerment was the main benefit when marketing the product.

Cynics originally frowned upon the checkouts for removing face to face engagement. With some stores reduced employee numbers in favour of the new technologies – job loss fears fuelled initial hesitance. The self-checkout experience has outlived the initial teething phase and is now found in stores across the country. How exactly did this spooky machinery win over the hearts of British consumers?


In ‘n’ Out

Consumers prefer the convenience of using a self-checkout in a hurry, or when they have fewer items of shopping. Whilst traditional checkouts still process larger transactions, smaller purchases can be made more often using checkouts and kiosks.

Many shoppers also choose to use self-checkout machines for added autonomy. Giving customers control of the scanning, payment and bagging process allows time and experience to be controlled by the consumer themselves. Whilst reducing face to face engagement was initially an issue – some shoppers appreciate the speed and independence of self-checkouts. According to a SOTI survey – when asked 66 per cent of shoppers preferred self-service and self-checkout options. 77 per cent of consumers would also be very or somewhat comfortable where self-checkout is the only option, indicating a growing fondness for the systems.


Increased sales

Many retailers are benefitting from an increase in sales through self-service checkouts. With smarter upsell opportunities, self-service options have the added value of never forgetting to offer additional items. Average transaction values through checkouts and online ordering apps are higher than traditional selling methods. Paired with reduced labour costs – the return on investment will pay for the original cost of the software in no time.  

The increase in sales is also being noticed throughout various retailers. Profits are increasing across the board - for example, Taco Bell announced that orders through their online app have a 20% higher transaction value compared to cashier transactions – due to additional ingredients being chosen. Cinemark movie theatres also saw an increase in concession spending, with spending per person rising consecutively for 32 quarters.


Future market predictions

The market for kiosks is set to increase continuously over the next 12-18 months and exponentially from there on. A report by Markets and Markets, the interactive kiosk market specialists predicts a market worth of £23 billion by 2023. Early indicators of this growth are already visible and population statistics further support this prediction. With so many businesses focussing their attention on millennials as their core target market audience – technologies such as online ordering, mobile apps, self-checkout and click & collect will all increase in popularity. There are approximately 16 million millennials, and when surveyed – 91% out of 1000 had used a self-service kiosk – and 49% wanted to see them deployed in every store.

The results show that providing customers with self-service options leads to increased returns, smoother store operations and increased customer satisfaction. The self-serving culture within Britain is well and truly established and all sectors of retail, hospitality, sports and entertainment venues are embracing this at every opportunity.

To find out how your business can be supported by Self-service kiosks, Click & Collect, or online self-service functionalities, submit a contact form and we will contact you shortly. 

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