2014 proved to be a good year for self-checkout (SCO) activity in western Europe and Japan, despite a fall in the number of global shipments, according to new research by London-based strategic research and consulting firm RBR.
SCO shipments to western Europe grew by 19% in 2014, with activity in the UK, second only to the USA by installations, up by 14%. Alongside traditional devices, a diverse range of self‑service technology has been trialled in the UK, including tunnel scanning (where goods are placed on a conveyor belt and automatically scanned), mobile scanning, and slimline cashless terminals without security scales. SCO rollouts also continued in other countries, including France, Germany, and Sweden.
Japan witnessed a renewed impetus in the SCO market, with shipments up by more than 40%. Several major convenience store chains have begun piloting small-footprint solutions in order to maximise their limited floor space. Although a culture of assisted service in retail has been the norm in Japan, shifting demographics means that there are fewer people of working age willing to do lower paid jobs and this has encouraged retailers to look at labour-saving devices including SCO, which are expected to become increasingly common.
Self-Checkout Shipments by Region, 2013 and 2014 (thousands)
Source: Global EPOS and Self-Checkout 2015 (RBR)
Activity in the USA expected to recover after fall in 2014
After a record year for SCO in 2013, when a large-scale rollout at Wal-Mart saw shipment numbers spike in the USA, activity in North America fell in 2014. Nonetheless, it is expected to pick up again in 2015 and beyond, with retailers such as discount chain Target continuing to roll out the technology.