2012
07.25

If you don’t enjoy using self-checkout lanes and their related technologies when making a purchase, you could soon find yourself out of luck. Self-checkout is gaining more attention in the retail world, and connected technologies are making it easier than ever to implement.

But before you start to worry about the end of personal service and the loss of cash registers, let me ask you this: Do you enjoy waiting in a long line to check out? Are you fond of wandering a large department store trying to find a register with someone manning it? Self-checkout could make those problems go bye-bye.

Personally, I’m all for self-checkout. There usually isn’t a line, and I can make sure each item rings up at the price I thought it should. But coming advancements may mean the process will become even easier. For instance, multiple reports indicate retailer J.C. Penney is making moves to eliminate cash registers in its stores, turning instead to Wi-Fi and RFID-based systems. Details are still fuzzy, but RFID tags in place of bar codes could change the way we purchase items.

With an RFID code on products, it would be possible to implement a system where customers aren’t even required to scan the items. They could simply pass through an RFID reader (perhaps mounted to a doorway or turnstile) that would automatically identify all the items. The customer’s credit card could even be charged automatically. In this scenario, waiting in line would be a thing of the past.

J.C. Penney has been on a mission to revolutionize its stores and its image. It’s trying to do away with sales and coupons to cut down on shopping hassle. Getting rid of cash registers and using a new technology instead would do much to project a cutting-edge image, and make shopping easier at the same time.

And allow me to return to the idea of personal service. The loss of the register doesn’t necessarily translate into the loss of store associates. If done right, self-checkout could free up employees to actually provide better service. Instead of spending their time ringing up sales, associates could assist customers with questions, look up additional information using mobile devices, and provide personalized consultations about products. I would be willing to swap a human cashier for these services any day.

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