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Costs and Benefits of Installing Grocery Store Self-Checkout Kiosks

More and more grocery retailers around the country have added self-check kiosks to their operation, with tens of thousands of new kiosks hitting stores every year.

Customers may have been slow to adopt the new technology, but most are now accustomed to seeing – and using – this technology at their favorite grocer. Today, shoppers and store owners alike realize the many benefits of self-checkout kiosks.

With advances in technology, and the equipment becoming less expensive to both purchase and maintain, don't expect these machines to go away anytime soon.

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Speed and Efficiency

The most obvious advantage for your shoppers is how fast and easy it is to checkout and pay for their groceries with a kiosk. This is especially true during your store's high-traffic periods, when everyone and their dog seems to be doing the weekly shopping. If someone wants to make a quick stop on the way home from work for one or two items, he or she no longer has to stand in line behind people with full carts. Instead, your customer heads to the self-check aisle, rings up the items, pays, and is out the door. No muss, no fuss, and no long lines.

This also helps your other customers work their way through more quickly, and leads to shorter lines for everyone. Not only does it make it easier for your shoppers, but also for your employees, who deal with fewer aggravated customers.

Less Space

Self-checkout kiosks take up much less space than a traditional checkout line. In fact, it isn't unusual to see three kiosks in the same space as a single cashier-controlled checkout lane. This makes even more room in the traditional lines for customers purchasing large numbers of items, and reduces the stress and hurry cashiers often face. And, when cashiers feel rushed, they are much more likely to make mistakes.

Reduce Labor Costs

You only need a single employee monitoring the self-check aisle, which in larger stores often totals 10 or more machines. It doesn't take a math whiz to realize the savings in salary and benefits when you can easily cut back on cashiers without negatively impacting your customer service.

Customer Satisfaction

Many shoppers prefer the self-check process, especially when purchasing only a few items, or possibly when the items in their cart are of a more personal nature. Giving your customers the option to use self-checkout if they want to increases your overall reach.

Average Costs

The upfront costs of self-checkout kiosks are substantial, averaging in the $20,000 range per unit (though previously owned units typically cost between 25 and 50 percent less). They have a lifespan of around five years. However, both of these numbers continue to improve with advancements in technology.

You may also buy complete solutions, such as a four-lane system that includes a manager's station. This complete system will run you between $75,000 and $100,000. Of course, this cost is dramatically higher than the average $4,000 that stores spend on a traditional POS system, which also has nearly double the lifespan. For many store operators, the convenience and labor saving factors make the difference in price more than worth it.

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