PCC Community MarketS
Independent grocery stores have often struggled with the decision of whether to implement self-checkouts, as the segment prides itself on its service to customers. Some see offering self checkouts as giving customers a choice, and therefore providing the ultimate service to customers, while others want to maintain that staff/customer touchpoint, as was the case with PCC Community Markets.
PCC indicated that it plans to replace all of its self-checkouts with staffed express lanes, and has no plans to implement any other self-checkout technology such as scan-and-go. This move sets it apart from other retailers, like Amazon Go, that are embracing the concept of touchless shopping.
The Seattle-based co-op has opened two new stores in the past several years, neither with self-checkouts, which led CEO Cate Hardy to suggest that all stores be consistent, and the question became whether to add them to the other eight locations or remove them, noted Heather Snavely, VP marketing for PCC, when Progressive Grocer asked for comment.
“To help with our decision, we did a test in one of our stores," Snavely said. "We installed express lanes so shoppers would have a choice between self-check, express and full-service lanes. After a couple months, we found that it was split one-third, one-third and one-third across the three experiences – which meant two-thirds of our shoppers preferred a staffed lane."
PCC also had to consider staffing, which would need to be increased to provide express checkout lanes.
“The more we talked about it, what we came to was: We believe our staff are one of our biggest strengths and differentiators," Snavely continued. "We want shoppers to interact with our staff, because it’s going to make the experience better. Why would we want to have an experience in our stores that removes that differentiator from the equation? What it really came down to, was that this was a brand, not financial, decision. As a community-owned market, we want to create community and connection in our stores, and you can’t create connection at a kiosk. We’ve gotten an incredibly positive response from both staff and shoppers.”