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Self-checkout Reduces Front End Impulse Sales More Than 45 Percent: Study

FRANKLIN, Tenn. -- Shoppers purchase impulse items such as snacks, candy, beverages, and magazines 45.4 percent less often when they use self-checkout than when they use a staffed checkout lane, according to a new study by retail technology consulting firm IHL Consulting Group.

What's more, the impact is greater for women (-50.0 percent) versus a drop of 27.9 percent for men in the study. "Retailers are being forced to re-think their merchandising at the front end as they deploy self-checkout systems," Buzek said.

"The impulse displays have not caught up to this new technology. By definition these are impulse items -- thus they must engage the senses. Retailers such as Meijer and Kroger have adjusted by offering items such as rotisserie chickens and fresh baked breads to rely more on the sense of smell to drive sales, rather than simply visuals when trapped in a staffed lane. Manufacturers such as Hershey's, Wrigley's, or Pepsico need to adapt display technologies to leverage these new self-checkout lanes or face a drop in sales."

In the market study, 2006 North American Self-Checkout Systems, IHL examines the consumer acceptance of self-checkout technologies, what consumers like and dislike about the systems, and what impact they have on their shopping behavior.

Additional findings of the study include:

-- In 2005, consumers spent over $110.9 billion on self-checkout transactions at retailers, up 35 percent, year to year.

-- The average number of items in a self-checkout transaction is 6.7, and the average self-checkout transaction is $32.85.

-- Nearly one-fifth (18 percent) of self-checkout users use it "all the time" when it is available but 29 percent use it only when there is a line at the other lanes.

-- Fifty-five percent of respondents indicated that their greatest dislike about self-checkout involves transactions that are halted midstream for employee intervention. According to the consumers in our survey, one in every three self-checkout purchases requires such intervention.
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