It’s something that’s sparks more heated chatter and split views with people and companies than present‑day political debates. Love it or loathe it, it’s self-checkout. With labor shortages and the constant battle to attract and retain good talent, many companies are employing self‑checkout to help fill the void.
The process of self‑checkout or self‑ordering is being adapted by retailers from grocery stores to big‑box retailers, to restaurants and even food service vendors at sports arenas across the country. At some fast‑food drive-throughs today, a cashier may not be inside the restaurant, they could be somewhere remote like Boise, Idaho to take your order. It’s even happening at busy spots like the front desk of hotels and airports.
Get ready—the trend shows no sign of slowing down. Instead, expect to see the movement continue as more retailers invest in self‑checkout. Retailers see the advantages as they’re able to fill the current staff shortages, save dollars on labor, and able to use key staff to perform more complicated tasks. We’ve already seen companies like Amazon who’ve moved to completely contactless stores where customers can walk into a store to shop what they need and simply walk out with their goods, as an app knows what they took and charges them for it.
While some people like the ease and convenience of self‑checkout, there’s also has a large group of consumers angrily asking, “Where the heck are all the people to help?” Take a scroll through social media and you’ll see videos and posts from infuriated customers who are fed up with the self‑checkout process. Many can’t navigate pulling their carts into the tight spaces to scan their items. And while some items are easy to scan, admittedly, there’s nothing worse than trying to weigh your own bananas. Or how about trying to heave a 16‑pound bag of ice onto the scanner yourself? And it never fails that something technically goes wrong, leaving you in need of an associate to help navigate those complicated processes that require knowledge. It’s not uncommon to see people flocking to stand in line at the lone checkout manned by a real person. Let’s be honest, most people don’t want to “work” when they’re shopping, dining, or flying.
No matter what camp you’re in, it’s the loss of the “human” element that needs to be addressed by companies. As more move to self‑checkout and contactless shopping, they’ll need to harness technology that offers a personal touch to avoid losing frustrated customers.
T‑ROC has invented an antidote that combines both technology and people and can suffice both camps. It’s called VIBA. The Virtual Interactive Brand Ambassador is the world’s first omnichannel engagement solution that can be used anywhere, at any time. The platform connects customers with a live agent or a life‑like virtual ambassador named Valerie through a totem in a store, smart signs, QR code, and via website. Basically, it puts customers in touch with a real human or virtual ambassador at all times. No more waiting around for help or searching for a salesperson. At the same time, employers are still employing staff but in a more effective and smarter way.
For instance, VIBA can be utilized as a totem at a retailer, restaurant, or hotel checkout, where customers walk up to the totem to receive instant support from a live agent. That agent can scan items; answer questions; print out important documents from product comparisons to contracts; and assist with everything from start to finish.
It’s still more cost‑effective but offers a personal touch that’s been lost these days.
As more companies move to more cost‑effective and purportedly convenient solutions, they’ll need technology and employees that still target their most important reason for being in business: customers, and ultimately, sales. The right solutions build customer loyalty, not frustration, and makes both camps – happy campers. Pun intended.