Managing labor with self-checkout

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Managing labor with self-checkout


There’s an assumption people sometimes make that if a retailer installs self-checkout in their store, the store is cutting staff. But self-checkout doesn’t mean cutting jobs.

In fact, self-checkout gives the retailer the ability and flexibility to increase their labor force in other parts of the store. And do it without raising labor costs.

How? It’s simple. You’d take associates traditionally manning the checkout lane and redirect them to other areas of your store and more high-value tasks. Let’s look at how you can manage your labor with self-checkout to improve customer service.

1. Re-direct front-end labor to other customer-facing departments

2. Re-direct front-end labor to meet new safety regulations and precautions

3. Train your self-checkout attendants to be mobile, engaging and attentive

Now that you’ve installed self-checkout, you may only need one associate to manage about four lanes of self-checkout, rather than the traditional 1:1 ratio of a manned lane. If you used to have six associates manning your checkout lanes before, now you might only need two or three. Think what you could do with that flexible, redirected labor.

 Moving labor to other customer-facing departments

What’s frustrating to shoppers? Having to wait in a line—any kind of line. Whether that’s checking out, waiting at the deli, waiting for the next bakery employee, waiting while an associate goes to find something that’s not on the shelves, but should be.

Understanding your store’s shopping trends and peak times for areas like the deli, meat counter and prepared foods, you can take your redirected labor from the front end and put them in one of these areas.

And, in our COVID-impacted world, grocery stores are also experiencing unprecedented peak shopping periods. Consumers are cooking at home more and are stocking up on the essentials. You could move some of your labor previously at your front end to the back. Because, while someone stocking inventory isn’t necessarily a customer-facing role, full shelves and product availability are customer facing.

Having more staff available for simple tasks like helping customers find what they need boosts the feeling of personal service, customer satisfaction and ultimately, loyalty.

 Moving labor to meet COVID-driven regulations and precautions

As a grocery retailer, safety and cleanliness are top of mind—now more than ever. There’s so much to keep up with to ensure that your store is operating as safely as possible.

Extra labor to help manage these additional safety measures would help to keep operations running smoothly.

You could have dedicated resources to keep customers social distancing – marking areas on the floor, directing traffic in one direction and keeping in-store signage posted.

You could have dedicated resources to frequently clean your store - like technology and check-out equipment, (hyperlink to another Primer article) shopping carts, and high-touch merchandise zones.

 Training your self-checkout attendants

To have this redirected front-end labor that you can re-direct in other areas of your store, you need to have self-checkout attendants that are properly trained to deliver customer service that’s just as good, if not better, then the attendant at a manned lane.

Retailers need to train self-checkout attendants to be mobile.

When you have an attendant that just stands behind a podium at the front of the self-checkouts, they’re not anticipating your shoppers needs and engaging with them. If your attendants are moving around the self-checkout zone, they’re able to recognize when a shopper is going to need them before an intervention is even triggered – like an age restricted purchase.

Getting ahead of these interventions and not having your shopper stand idle at the self-checkout while waiting for an attendant will greatly improve the level of customer satisfaction.

Imagine everything that you could do in your store if you were able to take some of the labor costs associated with your front-end and put that labor elsewhere? The options are endless—and you can cater this re-directed labor to meet the needs of your stores and shoppers.