Start a retail management degree at American Public University.
By Dr. Mark Friske
Faculty Member, School of Business, American Public University
The latest trend in retail businesses is self-serve cashiers that require customers to scan and bag their own items. Fast-food restaurants are also following the trend by offering mobile ordering options.
Many customers want more of these self-checkout machines. These customers believe that doing their own checkout is faster than using a live cashier and they are willing to do the extra work themselves.
Self-serve cashier machines also saves businesses money by eliminating the need to pay someone to run the register.
Self-Checkout System Has Its Disadvantages
Although self-service operations save money for retailers, there are some negatives to the self-service cashier system. First, the element of personal interaction is completely lost.
However, shopping trends have moved to a price-oriented focus because saving money is now more important to many consumers than personal service. As a result, some customers are willing to help themselves, rather than experience the personal touch of customer service.
Another possible drawback to the self-checkout system is the potential for theft. Some shoppers might not ring up all of their items in an attempt to save money. Sometimes, these customers get caught when they show their receipt to a checker at the exit and there are some unaccounted-for items in their carts.
They may try to justify their theft by explaining that they just missed scanning an item or two. However, a business cannot have the customer arrested unless the attempt at theft is obvious.
Good Retail Businesses Need Good Strategy and Better Customer Service to Compete with Online Retailers
Our economy gives us many choices where to buy and many different shopping alternatives. Amazon and other online shopping sites are growing larger every day, providing strong competition to their brick-and-mortar competitors.
A good business, however, will develop a good strategy to compete with online retailers. Businesses need to stay competitive in order to survive.
But all too often, they overcharge and put themselves out of business. That’s what happened to Toys-‘R’-Us and several now-defunct home electronics stores.
Perhaps instead of eliminating customer service, businesses might look to strengthen their customer service options. For example, Walmart, Best Buy and others now have a ship-to-store option that allows customers to purchase items that might not be in stock at their local store.
Shoppers order their purchases online to be sent to that outlet, which tells them when they can pick up their purchases. The items will be waiting and delivered with a personal touch. In addition, these retailers usually do not charge customers for shipping on most items, which is a cost-saving plus.
There are many more ways retailers can compete with other buying options and still provide outstanding customer service. A positive customer service experience builds business loyalty and repeat customers. The key is to look for new ways to promote good customer service.
About the Author
Mark Friske, Ph.D., is a part-time instructor in the School of Business at APU. He holds a M.B.A. in business administration and a Ph.D. in organization and management, both from Capella University. In addition, Mark has a B.A. in pre-law from Bob Jones University.
Mark is a U.S. Navy veteran and has 25 years of management and leader experience with Apple, Citibank, UPS and other companies. He is a management and leadership consultant with Disney.