retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Catalina is out with data gleaned from its Shopper Intelligence Platform showing that . the number of self checkouts in the U.S. "has increased 10% in the last five years, driven by growth in grocery chains where they make up 38% of lanes … With retailers continuing to make sweeping shifts from manual to self-checkout (SCO) lanes in an effort to offset shrinking margins from inflationary labor costs, respond to social distancing protocols, and take advantage of automation technology, our data indicate that a hybrid model – of self-checkout and manned checkout – will improve customer experience enabling cost efficiency over the long-term."

Other conclusions:

•  "Catalina data shows that, although SCO lane penetration accounted for 38% of transactions, it produced only 24% of sales."

•  "SCO-only shoppers had smaller baskets and bought less than hybrid and MCO fans. One consideration is that SCO-only customers likely either do not pantry load – or they pantry load in other channels, such as mass retailers or online. Another is that some retailers limit the number of items a shopper can purchase in SCO lanes."

•  "Shoppers were more likely to use SCO lanes during off-peak hours, but that timeframe accounted for less than 5% of daily transactions and sales."

•  While "conventional wisdom in the industry says that shoppers won’t take the time to use coupons at SCO lanes," data shows that "SCO lane shoppers who received coupons drove 4X more sales growth than the SCO checkout lanes with suppressed incentives. When compared with the six-month pre-period, these coupons accounted for an 181% in sales growth versus the control group, which posted a 40% increase. Data analytics show that incentives attracted new shoppers, engaged lapsed buyers, and contributed to increased store visits."

•  "Hybrid shoppers produced the highest customer value ($1,720) and made 36 trips per year (2021)."

KC's View:

I was in my local Whole Foods the other day, where they only put in self-checkouts less than a year ago.  And this is what I found - a line that was as long behind me waiting to self-checkout as it was in front of me.

I know that it has been a long time since I've gone to a manned checkout at Whole Foods, largely because it is all about control, not speed or accuracy.  I always scan my Amazon Prime code for discounts, and I always bring my own bags.  

Control.  That's the bottom line for me.  I wonder if that is the dictating motivation for a lot of people.