Recently, a new shopping experience has been introduced in Hong Kong. The retailers integrate self-checkouts into their store environment. This kind of grab-and-go model has raised different opinions from the shoppers who have tried it. It is a good chance for us to familiarize ourselves with this latest shopping model as this should be a trend of shopping model in the future. Are you aware of that?
There are some reasons for people to find why the grab-and-go model will work and support it. To start with, the biggest advantage is speed. Customers can checkout and make their purchases rather than dealing with long queuing stacked up by customers waiting to pay. Faster purchase methods are always preferred by customers, especially in Hong Kong as we citizens really focus on efficiency. This can be very helpful during the peak sales times when stores often experience a large group of customers. This innovative method can help to reduce the length of check-out lines and waiting time, making customers have a better shopping experience and minimizing the stress on staff at the same time. Benefiting both parties.
From the retailers’ point of view, setting self-checkout stations can also reduce the operation cost and this favors them. These stations can be placed into a small place and fulfill their job with minimal space. A single traditional checkout can likely be replaced by several self-checkout stations with the same amount of space provided. This can help those stores where space is an issue. Also, fewer employees are needed, saving the resources. Self-checkouts stations can be monitored by a single employee at one time. This can reduce the unnecessary labor cost for the retailers. Good news to them, the shop owners.
Although the new grab-and -go model may benefit both the customers and retailers in some ways, there’re still some drawbacks and concerns.
The major one is difficulties facing customers. There are some potential technical issues behind the innovative shopping method. The younger generations are more technologically savvy and can navigate their way through this kind of new experience. Yet, some could still have a hard time when using the self-checkout stations. Difficulties also arise when barcodes, QR codes or coupons are not scanned properly and customers may need some assistance. Even with a detailed menu, this method can still be problematic and frustrating to some customers. Apart from that, many customers are not getting used to the process and still prefer the traditional cashier, the old folks in particular.
Another concern is about shoplifting. Even though most of the systems are equipped with some forms of anti-shoplifting technology, it neither means zero possibility of shoplifting nor absolute safety. Since the employees cannot monitor the payment at a close distance, it is relatively easier for the customers to steal. There is also a possibility that customers blame the equipment for payment malfunction.
While there’re many arguments about the pros and cons of this new system, this kind of grab-and-go shopping model has been used in other countries around the world like USA and Singapore and it is becoming a trend. Although the system may still arouse some concerns, it still brings benefits in different ways. Let’s wait and see how the system can be further refined and enrich our shopping experience.