We just completed a regional survey in New England to discover shopper’s response to adding Self Check Out lanes to the grocery store environment. While most grocery store owners appreciate the speed and efficiency of self-checkout (SCO) appliances; the most discerning owner knows the choice of SCO as a customer-service option will impact the atmosphere of the store. They ask the hard questions; who will like this new service? How does this impact our daily operations? Where do we start? A successful SCO rollout starts with understanding your customer’s reaction to SCO and a focus on our most profitable customers while growing new business using these expensive appliances and they should think about men as shoppers.
"Excellent customer service means helping all your shoppers— not just the biggest or most profitable—and encourages them to make frequent trips"
Our survey showed that many women don’t really prefer SCO but will tolerate them if needed for small orders. In a separate study NCR surveyed 400 U.S. grocery store shoppers, half using SCO and half using cashier-assisted checkout, and found a majority of both groups-78 percent and 60 percent, respectively--said “it's usually faster than going through a cashier-assisted line”. Speed may not be the reason most women choose to shop at your store but does it matter to potential male shoppers? Do you want a guy buying 4 T-bone steaks standing behind your best weekly shopper with a full cart?
Excellent customer service means helping all your shoppers not just the biggest or most profitable and encourages them to make frequent trips. The same surveys show the importance of providing checkout choice as a customer service differentiator, 64 percent of self-checkout shoppers and 44 percent of cashier-assisted shoppers said they “agree” or “strongly agree” with the statement “I believe retailers who offer SCO provide better customer service.” Men like to make decisions and while they may not always be at home in the local grocery store they know how to run in for that urgent item and will be glad to use the SCO units for a few specialty add-ons. This leaves the full service cashier available for the mom who need the extra set of hands to finish the weekly shopping trip. Even the best shoppers can appreciate the convenience of the SCO unit when a single item is needed. SCO units make your store atmosphere welcoming for all your shoppers big or small orders; busy or friendly shoppers; your most frequent shoppers and…men.
Are men shoppers looking for a small and frequent purchases important to your stores’ growth? Basket size appears to be a main factor a shopper considers when choosing between SCO and a traditional lane and over 40 percent say they prefer SCO when they have a few items in their basket or other lanes are very busy. The research suggests men may choose to shop at locations that offer the self-checkout lane. Are men really only picking up 1 or 2 items? CNBC reports that while nearly 90 percent of both men and women sometimes make impulse purchases, nearly a quarter of men said they shelled out more than $100 the last time they made an impulse buy, compared to just 16 percent of women. Your male shopper is more likely to add on unplanned items once they’ve already committed to spending money on an item. The SCO unit will not create more sales but the lack of a SCO unit may prevent the impulsive big spender from considering a visit to the meat counter or wing bar.
“Men tend to splurge more on convenience all of the data seems to point to that while women do a better job of sticking to a budget,” says David Lockwood, director and founder of Mintel Consulting in Chicago. If a store owner invests money into perishable inventory or prepared foods that attracts the impulsive buyer don’t ignore the desire for fast choices when it is time to pay. The men who responded to our survey requested that the SCO experience be staffed with friendly assistants and limited to orders of 5 items or less. They enjoy “getting in” and “getting out” without waiting or a hassle.
The survey was conducted by our own researchers between August and September 2020 from grocery shoppers in the Northeast. The 428 respondents used an online survey in response to a request in a weekly newsletter and social media posts.