Self-checkout As A Solution To Manpower Woes

Self-checkout machine was invented in 1984 by David R Humble who was inspired by the experience of standing in a long grocery checkout line. The machine gained popularity in the 1990s. In 2013, some 200,000 self-checkout machines were in use across the globe. It is expected that in 2021, the number of self-checkout machines in use will reach 325,000.

Advantages of Self-checkout Machines

The popularity of self-checkout machines can be attributed to a large extent to the cost savings as a result of less overhead. For example, the cost per passenger check-in at the airport using an electronic terminal is estimated at only US$0.14, a small fraction of a human staffed counter which costs about US$3 per passenger check-in.

In addition, self-checkout machines lead to higher speed and efficiency. We often observe customers abandon their shopping carts due to long queue line to check out. Based on research data, 33 per cent of customers may give up queuing if the wait time is more than 5 minutes. With self-checkout machines available, customers can help themselves with their purchases. The self-checkout machines are especially useful during peak periods such as public holidays and weekends when there is a big surge in the number of customers.

Self-checkout machines also occupy less space as compared with human staffed cashier counters. In the context of rising rental especially in countries like Singapore, it makes a lot of sense for retailers to replace cashiers with self-checkout kiosks. Best of all, machines need not rest. They are able to operate 24/7 without additional cost incurred to retailers. With guidance from your economics tutor in economics tuition class, do a cost-and-benefit analysis of self-checkout machines as compared with human staffed counters. You may look for a good economics tutor if you need help with the subject. Qualification, experience and track record are the top 3 attributes to look for in an economics tutor.

Self-checkout Machines in Singapore

Supermarkets are taking the lead in going cashierless in Singapore. As of July 2018, Sheng Siong had self-checkout machines installed in 15 of its 42 outlets. It was subsequently rolled out to other outlets. What Sheng Siong has adopted is a hybrid system that still requires a cashier to scan and pack the items for customers. Customers are then directed to a self-checkout machine to make payment for their purchases. This hybrid system enables cashiers to attend to the next customers 30 seconds quicker, leading to a 40 per cent saving on manpower.

Cold Storage, however, opted for an integrated system which was first launched in 27 outlets. With customers helping themselves with the scanning, packing and payment, Cold Storage is able to achieve 44 per cent cost saving on manpower. In addition, customers’ wait time is reduced by 40 per cent. A similar integrated system is adopted in Singapore’s biggest supermarket chain NTUC Fairprice. First launched in 59 outlets, the self-checkout machines at NTUC Fairprice is reported to handle over 10 per cent of its total transactions at the store. Consult your economics tutor in economics tuition, why self-checkout machines may be the solution to the manpower woes faced by the retail industry. Sign up for economics tuition with Mr Edmund Quek, the most sought-after economics tutor in Singapore to learn more. Mr Edmund Quek, principal economics tutor of Economics Cafe Learning Centre, a premier economics tuition centre in Bishan is renowned for incorporating real-world events into his economics tuition. Students who sign up for his economics tuition will receive a copy of the best-selling books published by the economics tutor.

Other retailers such as Singapore’s largest book retailer Popular Book Store have followed suit. Popular launched self-checkout kiosks at its newly revamped Toa Payoh outlet as well as its experimental Research Lab at the Singapore Management University last year to positive response. It was then adopted for the first time at its annual BookFest @ Singapore 2018 which proved to have helped ease the long-standing queue line problem at the event.

Like a coin has two sides, self-checkout machines have its disadvantages as well. There are always limitations to what a machine can handle. Some complicated transactions may require human interference. In addition, self-checkout machines are more vulnerable to shoplift. However, we believe the advantages outweigh the disadvantages and we expect to see greater presence of self-checkout machines in Singapore and beyond.

Linda Geng

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