Kroger, the United States’ leading pure-play grocer, is trying out a new self-service option at 20 stores in the Cincinnati, Ohio, area.
The company has added belted self-checkout, which functions essentially like a cashier-manned checkout lane, except that the consumer operates the technology, Cincinnati ABC affiliate WCPO reported.
The outlet noted that, with smaller-format self-service kiosks, the grocer found that consumers often struggled with a lack of space, even dropping damageable items. The stores also offer an attended checkout option for those where a shopper cannot or does not want to use these self-service lanes.
“Kroger is always looking for new ways to reinvent the checkout experience for its customers,” Jenifer Moore, corporate affairs manager for Kroger’s Cincinnati-Dayton division, said in a statement quoted by WLWT5. “[We recently] launched belted self-checkout lanes in over 40 stores in the Cincinnati/Dayton division.”
Kroger has been exploring a range of self-service options in recent years. In 2021, for example, the company began testing “KroGo” smart carts, created in partnership with Instacart-owned technology company Caper AI.
Also last year, the company pilot tested a self-service-only store in Dallas, Texas.
The news comes as many retailers look into forms of self-service that remove friction from the self-service process even more. Take, for instance, checkout methods in the style of Amazon’s “Just Walk Out” technology, whereby consumers scan their payment method as they enter, pick items up off the shelves, and leave the store, having the items automatically charged to their accounts.
For example, Rewe, a major German grocery chain, which operates around 6,000 stores in its home country and 3,500 in other markets, announced earlier this summer that it is implementing autonomous checkout in partnership with Israel-based computer vision company Trigo.
Plus, convenience chain QuikTrip, which has more than 900 stores in 15 states, announced Monday (Aug. 15) that it is implementing Just Walk Out technology at a location in Tulsa.
Research from PYMNTS’ September 2021 study “Today’s Self-Service Shopping Journey: The New Retail Expectation,” created in collaboration with Toshiba, which surveyed more than 2,000 U.S. adults about their checkout behaviors, showed that the No. 1 reason consumers opt for self-checkout is that they are looking for a quicker purchasing experience, and the second most popular reason is that they do not want to wait in line.
However, self-service is not always faster than its traditional checkout counterparts. The same survey found that 35% of grocery shoppers who use traditional checkout do so because they believe it takes less time than self-checkout alternatives. Meanwhile, the most common reason shoppers gave for using traditional checkout at the grocery store is that they are accustomed to it.