Self-Checkout Killing Impulse Items

Written by Evan Schuman
July 25th, 2006

In what’s been called the self-checkout diet plan, retailers are learning the unintended consequences of self-checkout systems, as they see sales of candy, Hollywood tabloids, batteries and other checkout lane impulse items plummet.

A very small part of the answer for this phenomena is that retailers are typically opting to not put such impulse items next to self-checkout systems, said Greg Buzek, president of the IHL retail consulting firm, which has just completed a self-checkout study. The core of the problem is simply the way consumers interact with self-checkout systems. Typically, they have to pay much more attention to choosing a lane and to watching their products and scanning them, thereby leaving almost no time for browsing magazines or otherwise being tempted.

“Things like chewing gum and breath mints, chocolate candy, chips and salty snacks, soda and water. We’re seeing a tremendous change there, drops of 40 percent overall from people who say they buy it in a standard lane but do not buy it in a self-checkout lane,” Buzek said. “Retailers have to factor those impulse items in when they do an ROI (return on investment) calculation for self-checkout. They are typically using labor savings or moving labor around in the store as a primary reason for justifying self-checkout but also need to factor in the merchandising sales. There’s a fundamental change happening in the frontend of the checkout line when self-checkout is implemented.”

Beyond the fact that few retailers have gotten around to adding impulse items near self-checkout systems, the attention-demanding nature of those lanes are making it more difficult to sell typical impulse items, said another retail technology analyst, Paula Rosenblum, VP of research and content for the Retail Systems Alert Group.

“There’s a difference in focus. I know that when I’ve stood on self-checkout lanes, you’re much more alert to see which lane you’re going to be ready to use,” Rosenblum said. “Your focus is simply different. You’re kind of getting ready for action.


Comments are closed.


StorefrontBacktalk delivers the latest retail technology news & analysis. Join more than 60,000 retail IT leaders who subscribe to our free weekly email. Sign up today!

Most Recent Comments

Why Did Gonzales Hackers Like European Cards So Much Better?

I am still unclear about the core point here-- why higher value of European cards. Supply and demand, yes, makes sense. But the fact that the cards were chip and pin (EMV) should make them less valuable because that demonstrably reduces the ability to use them fraudulently. Did the author mean that the chip and pin cards could be used in a country where EMV is not implemented--the US--and this mis-match make it easier to us them since the issuing banks may not have as robust anti-fraud controls as non-EMV banks because they assumed EMV would do the fraud prevention for them Read more...
Two possible reasons that I can think of and have seen in the past - 1) Cards issued by European banks when used online cross border don't usually support AVS checks. So, when a European card is used with a billing address that's in the US, an ecom merchant wouldn't necessarily know that the shipping zip code doesn't match the billing code. 2) Also, in offline chip countries the card determines whether or not a transaction is approved, not the issuer. In my experience, European issuers haven't developed the same checks on authorization requests as US issuers. So, these cards might be more valuable because they are more likely to get approved. Read more...
A smart card slot in terminals doesn't mean there is a reader or that the reader is activated. Then, activated reader or not, the U.S. processors don't have apps certified or ready to load into those terminals to accept and process smart card transactions just yet. Don't get your card(t) before the terminal (horse). Read more...
The marketplace does speak. More fraud capacity translates to higher value for the stolen data. Because nearly 100% of all US transactions are authorized online in real time, we have less fraud regardless of whether the card is Magstripe only or chip and PIn. Hence, $10 prices for US cards vs $25 for the European counterparts. Read more...
@David True. The European cards have both an EMV chip AND a mag stripe. Europeans may generally use the chip for their transactions, but the insecure stripe remains vulnerable to skimming, whether it be from a false front on an ATM or a dishonest waiter with a handheld skimmer. If their stripe is skimmed, the track data can still be cloned and used fraudulently in the United States. If European banks only detect fraud from 9-5 GMT, that might explain why American criminals prefer them over American bank issued cards, who have fraud detection in place 24x7. Read more...

Our apologies. Due to legal and security copyright issues, we can't facilitate the printing of Premium Content. If you absolutely need a hard copy, please contact customer service.