There Are Benefits to Offering Both Traditional and Self-Checkout

A new study finds hybrid checkout customers produced the highest customer value.

November 04, 2022

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.—The number of self-checkout lanes in the U.S. have increased 10% during the past five years, according to a study by Catalina, a shopper intelligence company.

Self-checkout now accounts for nearly 40% of lanes in U.S. grocery chains. Thirty-nine percent of shoppers used both self-checkout and manned checkout lanes, while 49% of shoppers prefer manned lanes only and 12% exclusively used self-checkout.

Self-checkout shoppers had smaller basket sizes and bought less than hybrid and manned-lane-only customers. Catalina found that customers who only use self-checkout likely do pantry loading in other channels, such as mass retailers or online.

Hybrid shoppers produced the highest customer value ($1,720) and made 36 shopping trips per year in 2021.

“In our view, retailers should evolve to create a balance of self-checkout and manned lanes to accommodate more multi-dimensional shopper profiles, improve customer experience, enable cost efficiencies and maximize sales for the long term,” said Wesley Bean, U.S. chief retail officer for Catalina.

At the 2022 NACS Show, industry pros from Pilot Travel Centers and Mach 1 outlined some best practices for incorporating self-checkout in convenience stores.

Looking at demographics, customers who prefer manned checkout lanes were primarily baby boomers and “Silent Generation” consumers with household incomes under $100,000 and a high school education, the Catalina survey found. Self-checkout lanes also attract the Silent Generation, as well as 19 to 24 year-olds. Those who use both self-checkout and manned lanes are a mix of different demographics and tend to have an annual household income topping $100,000, which is higher than the other segments.

The Catalina study also cited a pilot program it conducted with a regional grocery retailer that compared the six-month performance of self-checkout shoppers who received ads with self-checkout consumers who did not. Both companies then measured post-campaign redemption rates to the previous year by region and type of checkout lane.

They learned that self-checkout shoppers who received coupons drove four times more sales growth than the self-checkout customers without coupons. When compared with the six-month pre-period, these coupons accounted for an 181% in sales growth versus the control group, which posted a 40% increase. Data analytics demonstrated the incentives attracted new shoppers, engaged lapsed buyers and contributed to an increase in store visits. 

Convenience stores are adding self-checkout, as well as checkout-free technology. Chevron announced checkout-free shopping at Chevron’s ExtraMile store in San Ramon, California, by partnering with Grabango. Bp, MAPCO and GetGo Café+Market also have partnered with Grabango to integrate checkout-free technology into their stores.

Choice Market convenience stores in Denver offer self-checkout, walkout technology and an app, which all sync and communicate with each other. Choice Market recently opened an autonomous store at The University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus that will be open 24/7.

NACS offers a free webinar on self-checkout innovations at c-stores. Pre- and post-pay fuel transactions, loyalty, cash payments and age verification are also discussed.

Read more about frictionless checkout systems in “Self-Checkout Strategies” in the March issue of NACS Magazine. And look for NACS Convenience Voices research findings on how customers perceive self-checkout in the upcoming December issue of NACS Magazine.