This article is brought to you by Mashgin.
ALEXANDRIA, Va.—Today’s consumers want a quick and easy checkout experience. NACS Magazine recently interviewed Jack Hogan, vice president of strategic partnerships, Mashgin, about how convenience retailers can use frictionless checkout technology to speed lines and increase transactions.
Q: Today, customers need to be moved quickly and safely through a purchase transaction. How can Mashgin help?
A: By using computer vision, we can quickly ring up every item in a transaction at once—no need for customers to fuss around with barcodes. They just place their items down and in half a second, they are ready to pay. The longest part of a transaction is waiting for people to get their credit card out of their wallet!
Our average transaction time for convenience stores is about 22 seconds—nearly twice as quick as the average cashier, and four times faster than traditional self-checkout. So, adding Mashgin is like having two extra team members who are always ready to help customers. That means you can serve more customers at once and quickly work through lines during busy periods. And faster moving lines and fewer face-to-face interactions means a safer store for your customers and your staff.
headshot of Jack Hogan, vice president of strategic partnerships, Mashgin
Q: And faster lines means more revenue for retailers, right?
A: Absolutely. We have clients who see massive revenue impacts from shortening their lines. My favorite example is with the Denver Broncos at Mile High Stadium. In concession areas where they put Mashgin, lines moved 96% faster, and as a result they saw 34% more sales than before. That’s why Mashgin is now in over 20 stadiums across the U.S., with even more coming soon as they move toward touchless options for re-opening.
As for convenience stores, increasing transactions by even 1% can mean more than $30,000 in extra annual merchandise revenue per store. And speeding up lines in-store also clears up parking lots, which means more fuel sales during busy hours. If you can claim just three additional fuel sales a day by having more pumps open, that’s another $30,000 in annual revenue.
Q: How do you differentiate between SKUs, or even foodservice that doesn’t always look the same each time it’s rung up?
A: We use computer vision as well as other patented technologies that let us understand items the same way the human eye does. So Mashgin can tell the difference between items with very similar packaging, as well as those with the same packaging but different sizes. This deeper understanding also means we can easily identify quick-service foods and other items that are roughly the same but come out slightly different every time they are made. That’s a big deal in self-checkout since customers can just drop their hot dog or taquitos down on the tray rather than navigate a series of menus to choose their item.
We work with the largest foodservice operators in the world (such as Aramark) and are still able to stay 99.9% accurate, despite constantly changing menus.
Q: How do you handle age-restricted products?
A: Mashgin is fairly compact for a self-checkout system (~36” x 25”), so for most of our clients it sits on the counter near other cash registers. That allows us to work both as a self-checkout and as a hybrid-checkout where employees can deal with age verification and getting behind-the-counter items while Mashgin rings up everything else instantly. The system also includes a regular barcode scanner—allowing staff to scan in behind-the-counter items without having to reach around the unit.
Q: What staff savings come with this self-checkout system?
A: We definitely make it easier to handle a lot of customers at once with fewer staff. Companies who make labor savings a priority tend to save between 60-100 hours a week ($800 - $1,200 in overhead). As adoption of self-checkout grows, managers notice teams being less stressed during busy times and start to ratchet down scheduled hours to better fit the new workload. Other organizations may choose to save fewer hours and instead focus on redeploying employees to revenue centers like foodservice and timely restocking, or to competitive differentiators like additional cleaning and customer service.
At the end of the day, c-store staffing is difficult. NACS data points out average turnover rates over 150% among part-time staff. By providing a faster, less labor-intensive checkout experience we hope to make happier customers and less stressed-out staff who churn less often.
Q: How can you help retailers encourage their customers to adopt self-checkout?
A: Once you get a customer to use Mashgin once, they’re almost always converted. We ran a survey across 400 first-time Mashgin users, and 80% of them said they preferred it to traditional checkout, 100% of them agreed it was faster and 99% said it was easy to use.
In our experience across several major chains we’ve seen a few best practices:
- Place Mashgin on the same counter where normal checkout happens. Having it be a part of the habitual flow of a customer is helpful in giving them context on what it is.
- Clear signage lets customers know that self-checkout is available and that all they have to do is place their items down.
- Have your staff act as technology ambassadors. We encourage retailers to post a staff member next to Mashgin to teach best practices to customers for the first few weeks until the regulars get up to speed. From there, other customers observe the regulars using it and figure it out for themselves.
This Q&A with Mashgin, “Faster Checkout With Fewer Staff,” is featured in the May issue of NACS Magazine.
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