3 Things to Consider When Thinking About Self-Scanning for Your Stores

| Retail

self-scanning in store

By Domenico Antonucci, Retail Sales Manager, UK & Ireland

As we step into the “New Normal” world of Covid with social distancing measures in-store, your shoppers will naturally be worried about their wellbeing.

It’s uncertain when measures like face masks and pocket hand sanitizers will no longer be needed. So many retailers are looking at ways they can quickly deploy mobile self-scanning solutions to help customers feel better about shopping in their stores.

Before you start talking to potential suppliers of these solutions, you will want to look at three key considerations that will govern your selection process. This will help you define what you really need, and identify who is best placed to help you deliver a solution that works for your customers, your employees and your business:

1. Why are you doing this? Is this a tactical or strategic objective for your business?

If it’s tactical you’re probably addressing urgent short to medium term issues you face today.  For example:

  • Making people feel safe in store: Perhaps for you, the key concern is just about measures that help your customers feel safer when shopping in your stores during the pandemic?
  • Overcoming the commercial impact of social distancing: Need to recover lost sales due to queuing? We’ve all grown used to long queues outside stores. But many people just don’t want to queue and will just go and shop somewhere else – either another store or online. Self-scanning customers complete their shopping faster, so you can serve more customers each day and claw back some of the revenue you are losing to long lines.

If you’re taking a more strategic approach that considers both short term needs and long term goals for your business, there are more considerations.  You’ll still be concerned with customer safety and reducing queues, but you’ll also be thinking about how self-scanning fits into your wider strategy for the success of your business.

Some commercial considerations for self-scanning include:

Floor space: Can you reduce the amount of floor space currently occupied by tills and repurpose it into selling space?  What would the impact on your sales per square foot be if you added more space?

Basket value: How will you drive up basket value from your self-scanning customers?

Retailers deploying self-scanning have experienced increased basket values of anywhere between 5 – 25% compared to “normal” check out shoppers.  You’ll need to research and analyze your customers or work  with specialists like Blueseed Retail.

Customer insights: What is the role of self-scanning in helping you build a much closer connection to each customer?

Self-scanning can bring a much better understanding of your customers’ journey through your store – not just their final basket, but what items did they scan and later put back on the shelf? Which offers drive the best spending outcomes?

Customer engagement: For example, Hyper-Promotions. As you learn more about each customer, you will be able to truly achieve unique one-to-one promotions.

Marketing plans: How will your app complement joint marketing plans with your suppliers?

For example: if you are selling hair colouring products, what would it be worth to your supplier if your customers could scan that product at home?  They could be presented with the supplier’s “How To” video, then ensure it’s seamless and easy for the customer to use social media to publish their experience. You’ll be able to connect purchase, consumption and social media outcomes for you and your supplier – creating much more insight and visibility into the value of your co-marketing efforts.

Must-have features & upsell opportunities: Consider the value of new features. For example, how could your app support a customer’s shopping lists with reminders and offers?

Additionally, how will you drive timely upsell offers during the customer shopping journey? If you look at retailers who have deployed self-scanning effectively, they have exploited the “you bought this, so you might want that” messaging – something you can’t do for ordinary shoppers once they have already arrived at your checkout.

The omnichannel experience: How will your app complement click & collect orders or items that your customer might want delivered directly to their home? You’ll also want to consider how you handle returns in your app.

2. How will you promote it and drive usage?

At the time of writing, coronavirus is on everyone’s mind. Retailers who already have self-scanning apps are seeing huge increases in consumer uptake.  But just because the coronavirus is leading consumers to use and adopt self-scanning apps, you still need to communicate about and promote your app properly.

Just creating it and publishing it on the app stores is only the start of your self-scanning ambitions. Having the right tactics and messages to promote it to your customers and your staff will be key:

  • In-store signage is the easiest way to make your customers aware of your shiny new app. But can you also promote it via any of your other customer communications channels, inline with other offers?
  • If you do have queues outside your store, why wait for them to enter before you promote your app to them? Perhaps you could use that time to engage them in setting up their account before they enter the store.
  • Customer support is key – who will your customers turn to when the app doesn’t work?  This must be planned for and make it easy for customers to get the help they need. Avoid delivering a bad experience.
  • Scanning speed and accuracy is key.  If the app doesn’t work and scan first time, and every time, customers won’t use it.  Mis-scans, no-scans, difficulty in scanning barcodes on items will create a bad customer experience.  Make sure your solution provides the scanning performance customers demand.
  • Staff training – this is often under-budgeted and overlooked. It is expensive, but it is impossible to avoid if you want your app to succeed. You need to train not only your staff who look after the checkout process, but any other shop floor employees too.  Your customers aren’t interested in the specific roles your staff are employed for; they expect to be able to get help from anyone on the shop floor. If you let them down by failing to train your staff,your app will fail to live up to its full potential.

3.  How will you address the problem of shrinkage?

Shrinkage is often cited as a key concern by people who have not bought into self-scanning. But you must reconcile the expected gains of self-scanning against shrinkage.

If you happen to be the owner of the business, you will already have a clear view in your mind of what self-scanning means to your bottom line. This makes it an easy decision for you.

On the other hand, if you’re part of a team looking to drive value for the business, then you need to start assessing the issue of shrinkage early.  Make sure you secure agreement from the management team/owners/investors BEFORE you invest too much time defining goals, needs and timelines for your self-scanning project.

Some things to consider when presenting the risk analysis to the senior management team include:

  • What is an acceptable level of shrinkage versus any uplift in sales?
  • Will you have staff carrying out random checks? How much will this cost?
  • Will you use cameras at the store exit to monitor customers – how much will this cost to run?
  • How will you complete the shopping transaction?
  • Will you allow customers to pay in the app and just leave the store?

Final thoughts

So before embarking on self-scanning, considering these three areas will give you a clear understanding of:

  1. Why you are deploying self-scanning (your sales goals)
  2. The potential costs to promote your app to your customers (including staff training).
  3. The risk analysis (managing shrinkage)

Taking this approach will help you define your app requirements/functionality in line with your objectives.  This will inform your choice of vendor, helping you to build a complete project cost and ROI with solid foundations that the whole business has bought into.

If you would like to find out more about creating a successful self-scanning app for your business watch our on-demand webinar with Lotte Lund Larsen from Coop Denmark & Christian Floerkemeier from Scandit to explore the game changing impact of recent events on self-scanning adoption across retail.

Watch the Webinar