Customers do not use this technology at ASDA, because, they have fear of using new technology, and, they think about the embarrassment of not being able to use this service successfully. To overcome this fear factor, supermarket should offer more help and assistance at self service checkout system.
Number of items factor
At the moment, ASDA and major supermarkets have product restriction on the items that can be shop at self service checkout system (SSC). Heavy shopping basket people still prefer cashier assisted shopping. Self service checkout systems were introduced because of faster shopping for the customers with less shopping items. That was to facilitate faster shopping experience for the customers with few items.
Time factor at queue
Self service checkout system at ASDA offers faster way of paying for the items. Customers do not need to wait for longer for paying for their items if they are paying for few items. Self service checkout system can help the customers save more time and reduce the long queues at checkouts.
At ASDA, they have implemented very user friendly system for the customers, but, customers still find this technology with lots of difficulties and obstacles. There were number of user difficulties such as asking to put items in the shopping area, asked for the assistant help. There was a Problem when placing items after scanning them from the scanner to the shopping area. Self service checkout systems need to make this system more user-friendly and usable.
Age restricted selling
At ASDA, there are some items that are age restricted and cannot be sold to under age person. To buy those products, person needs to prove his I.D. therefore, self service checkout system is not full equipped to scan and detect the age restricted person and selling decision for the age restricted item.
Privacy and confidentiality
At ASDA, customers like this technology because customers are in full control of their whole shopping process. They do not need to show their credit/Debit card detail to cashier or anyone. They can complete their shopping without coming in contact with the cahier or human interaction. It gives greater sense of privacy and confidentiality to their customers. Researcher asked one of the female customers about her experience of using the self service checkout system, she explained me about her joy of using this technology to buy for personal used items that she did not want to show to anyone or not even cashier to complete her shopping in the supermarket. Self service checkout system really helped customers to keep their privacy, control and confidentiality about their buying trends without revealing to the cashier or anyone in the supermarket.
Less customer support at SSC
There was a major problem of dealing with help queries at self service checkout system with customers because there was only one sales assistant to help more than 8 self service checkout systems. Researcher feels that it is not enough for eight self service checkout system to have single sales assistant to help all the customers at once. Supermarket should have more sales assistant in place to help the customers complete their shopping quickly when they experiences problems and difficulties.
Because it is innovative and new technology, customers try to shop for their items without any previous experience in using self service checkout system. Those inexperience shoppers add more delays to faster payment as compared to those experience customers who know how to use this new technology effectively and efficiently. Supermarket should help those new customers who have no or little experience of using self service checkout systems in the ASDA supermarket. It would help the supermarket to achieve higher customer satisfaction and loyalty, in result of higher customer retention; supermarket would earn higher profit and sales margin.
Using of recycle bags
There is a green issue regarding protecting our planet. At ASDA, using of recycle bags can reduce the amount of wastage and production of new plastic carrier bags. There are many ASDA stores that are using different strategies to give shopping bags to their customers. Some of the stores of ASDA giving free of charge shopping bags and some ASDA stores are charging for the recycle shopping bags.
Heavy basket problem
There is a problem of customers with heavy basket of shopping at self service checkout system. Some customers are ignoring the restriction of less items shopping at ASDA. Those customers make other customers wait for longer in queue for their shopping turn.
It is very important to have wheelchair access to these self service checkout systems. ASDA has self service checkout system with lots of space for the wheelchair and disable access to these self service checkout systems. There is also help available for these wheelchair and disable customers whenever they need assistance to shop for their items.
Health and safety
ASDA superstore has excellent health and safety facilities available at self service checkout systems and in the store as well. These self service checkout systems should have safety procedures to use these self service machines. Ergonomics can be defined as user- friendliness manufacturing of self service checkout system to overcome the strains and injuries in the ASDA supermarket.
POS System Operation:
Self service checkout system start by using the touch screen button. Customer scans the first item into the scanner. Scanner gives beep to indicate that first item has been scanned. Customer scans remaining items one by one and places those items into shopping bag area. Machine asks for the payment method to choose and customer select the appropriate method to pay for the scanned items such as debit/credit card or cash payment. Finally, customer takes receipt for the panel and takes the items to finish the shopping experience. Self service checkout system is a faster way of payment in the retail supermarket.
Regular customer point of view about self service checkout system
The researcher was very fortunate to meet a regular customer of ASDA supermarket who was also a sales and marketing manager at Paks Group of companies and chairman of Finsbury park business forum as well. Researcher asked the customer about his experience of using the self service checkout system. He said to me that he liked this technology because it has saved time more many customers who were shopping at the ASDA supermarket. He explained to me his personal experience of buying few items in the morning, but, he did not like the idea of standing in the queue waiting for his turn to be served even though, he got only one or few items to pay at checkouts. Researcher asked the regular customer about his experience in greater detail because of his personal experience in the sales and marketing field.
Possible expansion of self service checkout system
The researcher was doing the observation at ASDA supermarket about the self service checkout system, then, he came to know about the future expansion of ASDA store at Walthamstow to have only self service checkout systems except two cashiers because of the older age customers. Supervisor at ASDA who did not want disclose his name in this research paper because of privacy and confidentiality. He told me about the earlier survey that suggested of possible expansion of self service checkout systems at this ASDA stores in few months time. Researcher can conclude that self service technology is getting more popularity in retail supermarket.
Researcher own experience of using self service checkout system
Researcher performed the observation in two rounds. Researcher asked permission from ASDA Supermarket management for doing the observation at self service checkout system.
Researcher observed for 1 hour and 30 minutes from the nearest unit to observe the customer usability of this self service checkout system. Researcher asked the customer permission to observe her shopping experience and customer gave permission with smile. Researcher observed for the customer experience of buying about 8 items at self service checkout system, customer took about 4 minutes to complete the shopping at self service checkout system. Researcher also observed another customer at cashier payment facility, customer took almost 7 minutes to complete the shopping, even though, there was not any customer in the queue, but, customer was the only customer at cashier till payment. Researcher in his second round tried to use this self service checkout system by himself. Researcher used two items for the shopping experience at self service checkout system. Researcher completed his whole shopping experience about 1 minute 2 seconds seconds using debit card payment facility, then, researcher tried to shop again with 2 items using cash payment facility and it completed 57 seconds per minute. Researcher shopped again with 3 items with the cashier assisted till and there was a long queue for the shopping payment. Researcher completed his shopping experience in 9 minutes and 48 seconds. Researcher used stopwatch to observe this shopping timing.
Self service checkout system, customer satisfaction and retention
Self service checkout system can boost the customer satisfaction and retention level. Self service checkout system can increase the customer satisfaction to higher level to achieve customer retention in the supermarket. As researcher has collected and analysed the data about the customer satisfaction survey by using questionnaires to analyse the trend of customer retention. Customers like to pay for items with less waiting time at queue.
Figure: Customers complains in general for retail industry
(Source: Retail technology summit, 2008)
However this might be a foundation for increasing working hours, as supermarkets not depending on a cashier. Due it is not many research have been done in the UK, the USA practise might be relevant for this research and will be in future referred as a compare base.
Supermarket should have complaints procedures in place to improve the customer satisfaction and retention level as well. When customer complains about the service, then, it will give us the opportunities to improve the service at the self service checkout system. Customer service improvement would increase the customer satisfaction and loyalty. Supermarket can enjoy higher level of customer retention level. It was easier to retain their older customers as compare to find the new customers. Supermarket should try to win the loyalty of their old customers. Self service checkout system will increase sales and profit margin of the supermarket.