Grocers Expand Self-Checkout in Effort to Provide More Convenient Experiences

From New York to Portugal, self-checkout is taking over the grocery industry.

In Europe, cashier-less checkout technology provider Sensei recently announced the launch of the continent’s largest-yet autonomous supermarket, nearly 5,400 square feet, dubbed “Dojo” in Lisbon, Portugal. The store, created in partnership with Hewlett Packard Enterprise, follows the “Just Walk Out” model whereby computer vision technology enables shoppers to be automatically charged for items they take out of the store.

“Friction-free shopping is on the cusp of becoming mainstream. Many of Europe’s largest supermarket groups are testing autonomous store technology or have already launched a check-out free store,” Sensei CEO and Co-founder Vasco Portugal said in a statement.

Meanwhile, across the pond, multinational discount grocery chain Aldi has been expanding self-checkout options in New York State, as Rochester area publication Democrat and Chronicle noted.

The move is part of a broader effort on the part of the grocer to add the option to “hundreds more stores,” as Aldi Retail Payments Leader Teresa Turner told PYNNTS in an interview in the fall, arguing that the grocer’s customers’ purchasing habits are uniquely suited to the self-checkout occasion.

“We do have a smaller basket size than some of the larger competitors, so there is a large portion of our customers that just have three, four items, and they just want to check themselves out.”

Indeed, convenience is top-of-mind for many grocery shoppers. Research from PYMNTS’ recent study “Consumer Inflation Sentiment: The False Appeal of Deal-Chasing Consumers” finds that 77% of grocery shoppers report that ease/convenience was a key factor influencing their decision of where to make their most recent purchase.

The data bears out that self-checkout can be key to providing this convenience. According to data cited in the February edition of PYMNTS’ Retail Tracker® series, Innovating the Retail Checkout Experience, created in collaboration with LS Retail, 85% of retail customers say self-checkout is faster than waiting for a cashier, and 60% prefer self-checkout to interacting with a cashier.

Moreover, according to a PYMNTS interview with Thordur Reynisson, CEO of Iceland-based grocery store Nær, for the Tracker®, self-checkout technology can enable grocers to meet more demand by lowering the cost required to keep stores open for longer.

“Thanks to [cashierless technology,] it is possible to keep this shop open 24/7, bringing a service

that was missing in the area,” Reynisson said. “To me, this is a clear example of how technology should be used to make life easier.”

Plus, research from the PYMNTS study “Today’s Self-Service Shopping Journey: The New Retail Expectation,” which was created in collaboration with Toshiba Global Commerce Solutions and drew from a survey of more than 2,000 U.S. adults, found that 1 in 3 consumers used self-checkout options for their most recent in-store grocery purchase.           

In an interview with PYMNTS, Raz Golan, CEO and co-founder of Shopic, discussed how these technologies can help grocers meet consumers’ new expectations for their in-store shopping journeys, which the rise of eCommerce has changed.

“Shoppers are happier when they have a better experience in the store,” Golan said. “They buy more, they go back to the store more, and when they wish to, they can pay and go in a matter of a few seconds. This is the general trend, and shoppers are demanding this, when they compare the experience of online to these offline physical stores.”