May 12, 2014

A quiet revolution at the HybridCheckout counter

Shopping in modern supermarkets or grocery stores has become a standard experience for billions of people. Cashier-centered and self-service checkout procedures have become part of that standardized experience.

Many people, who have accepted and adapted to these procedures, might be reluctant to try an unfamiliar checkout technology or process. But, recent studies show that there’s enough customer dissatisfaction with self-service checkout methods that many customers might want to try and adapt to alternative checkout methods.

Speed and self-help at grocery checkout counters

Developed by Peoplepos Ltd., a United Kingdom company, new technology using its HybridCheckout approach entered the European market earlier this week.

The HybridCheckout Model 7C supports the DIY ethic for customers who want to help themselves and combines it with the rapid transactions that only experienced cashiers can deliver. HybridCheckout keeps familiar self-checkout functionality but adds capabilities that enable cashiers to step in and perform annoying or time-consuming tasks when needed.

Studies show that many customers prefer some human contact during checkout. For others, speedy completion of checkout tasks is most important. Experienced cashiers scan items more than four times quickly than the fastest self-service customer. So, the hybrid approach delivers faster completion and the human touch that most customers crave.

A flexible approach with the human touch

The HybridCheckout approach is based on customers and cashiers working side by side at the same checkout counter in three different scenarios:

Split scanning: no cashier help is required. Cashier and customer register items on their own sides of the counter. Nothing requires cashier attention, so the customer completes the registration process without the cashier getting involved.  Notice that the separator arms keep the flow of items on the cashier and customer sides of the counter moving into the correct packing areas.

Split scanning: cashier help is required. The transaction starts without cashier assistance. When the cashier notices items that require her attention, she communicates directly with the customer, switches her screen settings and uses her screen and input devices to register or approve the selected items that require assistance. These would be items without a proper barcode or special items like fruit, meat and vegetables.
  • When the cashier is done helping with the more complex tasks, she switches her screen settings back to her original customer and completes that transaction. Payment proceeds as in other traditional checkout methods. 
Shared scanning: cashier help is required. In this transaction, the cashier sees items that require his help. For example, he might need to approve a bottle of wine, weigh produce or check the price of a specific item.

  • The division of labor begins from the start of the transaction. The cashier switches his input screen to share the registration tasks with the customer on the other side of the counter. And, he sets the separator arms to allow items to flow to the customer or himself.
  • The customer registers the bar-coded items, and the cashier helps with the more complex tasks. All items registered on both sides of the counter are assigned to the customer’s transaction and are moved to the loading area of the counter.
  • Sometimes, after cashier help is complete, only a few items remain for shared scanning. In this case, if the next customer’s items are ready for checkout, the cashier may choose to continue helping the shared scanning customer or start scanning the next customer’s items.

The result: a quiet revolution in the retail and grocery industries that increases efficiency and improves the overall customer shopping experience.

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