Why do retail stores still have cash registers?
Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current article from the IMS (Integrated Marketing Solutions) blog.
Armed with smartphones, consumers have literally become the new POS (Point of Sale). Yet, retailers are still trying to herd them through checkout lanes.
When the consumer can purchase anywhere and anytime, there are a multitude of reasons why retailers can and should rip out POS registers and checkout lanes in stores:
- Checkout lanes take up considerable floor space.
- Security and theft prevention could remain in place with sensor scan at the exit door.
- Cashiers could be redeployed as associates helping consumers on the floor.
- Associates can also check out consumers in-aisle with smartphones and card readers.
- Consumers could checkout/purchase on their own smartphones with an app.
- Electronic receipts can be e-mailed to consumers, or printed at portable printers.
- Portable POS devices can still scan bar and QR codes for prices and inventory.
- More sales might result if purchases were made in the aisle while looking at products.
- How many consumers desire/need to pay in cash?
While the centralized checkout lanes have been a highly efficient system for stores, what are the actual costs in terms of lost sales? How many consumers abandon shopping carts because they don’t want to wait in line, especially during peak holiday periods? What is the cost in terms of consumer experience and satisfaction?
Apple’s store format is a case study in how an omnichannel retailer has changed the consumer experience by ripping out checkout lanes to enable purchase anywhere on the floor with no wait times.
One could argue that removing POS registers and checkout lanes will not work in a store like Walmart. Really? Why not? With more widespread adoption of RFID tags, an individual can scan a whole cart at once. RFID could also establish an added layer of theft prevention out of the front and back doors.
What retailers have not yet realized is that it will not be their choice to make. The consumer is now the POS, not the store or web site. Today’s consumer can now decide where to purchase, how much they are willing to pay, how to pay, whether they would like to ship to their home or pick up in-store.
Retail store survival will depend upon providing an experience that is consumer-centric and adds value to the customer first and foremost. The best place to start redesigning both the consumer experience and the profitable store of the future will be to rip out the registers and checkout lanes.
Should cash registers and POS terminals be phased out? Do you still see more value in keeping them rather than abandoning them? What obvious and less obvious hurdles do you see around widespread mobile self-checkout?