Taking a closer look
The self-checkout machine  



Different self-checkout machines from IBM, Fujitsu and NCR (source: respective vendors)

You’ve seen the self-service checkout kiosks at your local supermarket. An alternative to checkout lanes staffed by cashiers, they are introduced to offer customers more control, convenience, and a speedier checkout option. While retailers claim to install them to improve customer service, we also know these machines can help them redeploy their cashiers.

Key user needs

Not really intended for mothers with their hands full of bags and babies, the self-checkout option is meant for shoppers who want a quick exit, and prefer using the machines to dealing with store personnel. In a 2004 survey by research company IDC, respondents see the following key benefits of self-checkout kiosk:

IDC chart

Basic Functions  

A typical four-lane setup costs $125,000* to install - they certainly don’t come cheap! Current vendors include IBM, Fujitsu, NCR, and ECRS. Most self-checkout machines have the following basic functions:

  1. Lane light / Store attendant call
  2. Touch screen monitor
  3. Basket stand
  4. Barcode scanner cum weighing scale
  5. Payment module
  6. ATM PIN pad







* Source: www.darwinmag.com

Self-checkout procedure

The self-checkout procedure has 3 main stages, which are self-explanatory:

scan SCAN Users scan the items one-by-one using the barcode reader

bagBAG Users bag their items as they scan them

payPAY Users make payment


The shopper is guided by images on the touchscreen monitor and a recorded voice prompt through the process. Sounds easy enough? Let’s try it!

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