Target Rolls Out Major Change at Self-Checkout

Retailer debuts Express Self-Checkout to speed up the DIY process
Marian Zboraj, Progressive Grocer
Target Self-Checkout
Target is rolling out Express Self-Checkout with limits of 10 items or fewer at most of its nearly 2,000 stores nationwide.

Mass merchant Target is updating its checkout experience to get customers on their way faster.

Last fall, the retailer piloted the concept of Express Self-Checkout with a limit of 10 items or fewer at about 200 stores and found that self-checkout was twice as fast at these stores. Customers who were surveyed by the retailer said that having the option to pick self-checkout for a quick trip or a traditional, staffed lane when their cart is full, improved the overall checkout experience.

As a result of this feedback, starting March 17, Target has rolled out Express Self-Checkout at most of its nearly 2,000 stores nationwide. These lanes are limited to 10 items or fewer.

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However, some self-checkout lanes may close entirely at certain hours, depending on foot traffic patterns. Target is leaving it up to the discretion of store leaders to set self-checkout hours that are right for their store. While the hours of operation may vary based on store needs, Express Self-Checkout will be available during the busiest shopping times. 

As part of its updates to checkout, Target is also opening more traditional lanes staffed by associates across all of its stores for customers who have more in their carts, need a helping hand or simply enjoy connecting with associates. Store leaders will also have the flexibility to open more lanes staffed by associates when necessary for their store. 

Meanwhile, Target’s competitor Walmart has also been making headlines in the area of self-checkout. Walmart customers have recently noticed that at certain times of the day, the retailer's self-checkout lanes are only opened for Walmart+ subscribers or Spark delivery drivers, to ensure faster access and deliveries. 

In a phone call with, Kelsey Bohl, senior manager of corporate communications at Walmart, explained that the decision of whether to close lanes, or to limit the hours that they're available, is at the discretion of individual store managers who are responsible for deciding what works best for their employees and customers — similar to the strategy that Target recently employed.

"Store managers have the autonomy to make decisions about what is best for their specific store in their area, for their customers. It’s a very localized decision," Bohl explained, saying that depending on customer traffic and associate staffing, managers make adjustments accordingly.

[RELATED: Younger Consumers Loyal to Self-Checkout]

Other retailers that have recently made changes to their self-checkout strategy include Dollar General and Schnuck Markets Inc.

Target mentioned that it will continue to evolve its checkout options as customers’ needs change.

Minneapolis-based Target Corp. is No. 6 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2023 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America, with nearly 2,000 locations. Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart has 10,500-plus stores and numerous e-commerce websites in 19 countries. Walmart U.S. is No. 1 on The PG 100. PG also named both retailers to its Retailers of the Century list.

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