Retailers Around the World Rush to Roll Out Self-Checkout Solutions

New research shows shipments of self-checkout terminals jumped 52% globally in 2019, to a new record high

Broad range of US retailers ramp up self-checkout projects

Retailers across every world region increased their investment in self-checkout technology in 2019, with more than 120,000 units shipped globally according to Global EPOS and Self-Checkout 2020, a new study by strategic research and consulting firm RBR.

The USA drove the expansion, with uptake by numerous retailers across multiple sectors. Existing deployers, such as supermarket chain Wegmans and wholesaler Costco, rolled out the technology to more outlets and installed further units in stores already offering self-checkout. New users, from convenience store chains like Fast Phil’s to discounters and mass market fashion retailers, are implementing self-checkout for the first time.

European market doubles as supermarket chains increase investment

The research shows that activity in Europe nearly doubled in 2019, with a variety of projects underway, from first-time pilots of the technology to large-scale rollouts and hardware upgrades. Leading grocery firms, including Lidl and Carrefour, continued to expand their self-checkout footprint throughout the region, while several major supermarket chains in the UK invested in a large number of additional terminals, many of which were cashless.

Labour shortages in some central and eastern European countries encouraged retailers to invest more heavily in self-checkout, with Polish discounter Biedronka embarking on a rollout across its 3,000-store network.

Move away from cash stokes Chinese market expansion

China’s mobile payment revolution in recent years has fuelled strong growth in the self-checkout market, driven by payment providers Alipay and Tenpay. Units in the country largely only accept card or electronic payments, with facial recognition technology allowing customers to pay using their faces also being trialled at self-checkout terminals.

Elsewhere, initial self-checkout pilots took place in India and Vietnam, while leading retailers in Peru and Taiwan began first-time rollouts.

COVID-19 pandemic likely to boost shift towards self-service

The short-term impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the self-checkout market is likely to be limited; as essential retailers, grocery chains have continued trading during this difficult period, although some rollouts may be delayed until later in 2020. The impetus to keep close interaction between customers and staff to a minimum will boost the case for self-service.

According to RBR, the self-checkout momentum will continue, with global installations expected to treble by 2025 to surpass 1.1 million. Alan Burt, who led the research, commented: “The COVID-19 crisis will only embolden long-standing and new self-checkout proponents alike to speed up expansion plans, with customers increasingly expecting such solutions as part of a wider array of checkout options”.