ShelfLife magazine, the largest retail trade magazine in Ireland, featured the recent Self Checkout installation from CBE in Doherty’s Costcutter in Carndonagh. The article featured in the August edition of the magazine and can be downloaded by clicking here or read in full below.
No more queues
A healthy scepticism about the potential side-effects of installing self-service checkouts prevented Michael Doherty from introducing them for years. However, a growing business and extensive queues in store made him reconsider…
Doherty’s in Carndonagh, Co Donegal has become the first Costcutter in Ireland to install self-service checkouts in-store. The Doherty family operates two stores in Donegal – one in Ballybofey and one in Carndonagh. The latter is a particularly popular site, winning the Supermarket Store of the Year at the 2016 Costcutter Awards. The Dohertys have long been renowned as progressive retailers. For them, customer service has always been the cornerstone of their business, and as such is a key element of their success story. Due to this focus on serving customers and providing a friendly face to the business, Michael Doherty and his parents Susan and George never considered including self-service checkouts (SCO) in their plans. In fact, this is a view held by many independent retailers. “We pride ourselves on customer service,” says Michael. “Operating in local towns we strive to ensure that our customers have a personable experience when shopping in our stores. We value each and every one of our customers, and as such we want them to know that we appreciate their custom and put them front and centre in everything that we do.”
Michael Doherty explains how he was – like anyone – very aware of SCOs and their use in larger multiples. However, with the size and nature of his store he assumed that it wasn’t for him. “I didn’t think we were big enough for it,” he says. “Also, my understanding was that the main benefit is to reduce labour hours. That is something we simply weren’t interested in doing. “As such, I never gave it much consideration for our own stores,” he says. So then, SCOs weren’t part of his plan, but doing something about the regular queues in his store was. The store has a busy convenience and trolley shop mix, and the queues were having an impact on the transaction times of the trolley shops and the ability for convenience shoppers to grab their few items, pay and go. One way to alleviate this issue was to speed up their transaction times by upgrading their EPoS software and implementing contactless payments. Michael spoke with CBE who reviewed his operational model. Along with upgrading his software, they subsequently advised him to implement self-checkout.
The retailer confesses that he was sceptical at first, but he soon became very keen after studying the business case presented by CBE and realising that it could be the solution he was seeking for his queueing issue. CBE Sales Director John Henry agrees that detailed analysis of Doherty’s trading patterns made a compelling case for switching to self checkout, despite his initial misgivings. “We supply the NCR SCO’s and NCR are the world’s leading self-checkout provider and have a very scientific approach to SCO,” says Henry. “We utilise NCR’s experience in global retail markets to
dissect each individual store’s performance in an attempt to understand if they are suitable for self-checkout. “The results of this analysis provided an extremely compelling business case for the Dohertys,” he says, “which would allow them reduce queues and actually offer an improved customer service.” Following careful consideration and speaking with other retailers that had installed SCO, Doherty took the decision to proceed with the implementation and to date it has proven to be a huge success. 42% of transactions are going through the SCOs and it has dramatically reduced queues and improved overall customer service in the store. Customers are delighted with the changes that have been made, and the store is better equipped to deal with the influx of customers at peak periods. The newly designed queuing system for convenience shoppers also allows them to choose the SCOs first or proceed to a staffed checkout should they so choose. Overall, the addition of the self-checkouts has improved the shopping experience of the trolley and convenience shoppers.
Since the customers are suitably impressed, it’s fair to say that the staff in the store are also delighted with the success of the SCOs. From the outset, Doherty informed them that the self checkouts were not there to replace staff, but to improve the store. In fact, by improving the customer service, the prediction was that the shop would be busier, and with more customers. So if anything the introduction of SCOs may in fact lead to the hiring of more staff! This is how things have materialised. Overall, Michael Doherty says he is very pleased that he made the decision to install the
self-checkouts. “In the past,” he says, “we tried to offer a good customer service. Now we know for sure that is what we are providing. We can easily deal with the fluctuation and increase in customers at peak periods without needing to pull staff from the shop floor to man the checkouts. This enables staff to carry out important tasks in the store without any disruption. Most importantly, our customers are getting served faster.” On the topic of whether or not he would recommend introducing self-checkouts to another retailer, Michael says that he would. “Yes I would,” he says. “It may not be for every store, but for shops that have the capacity to install them and need an answer to solve their queuing issue, then SCO is the solution.” “Queues were our problem,” he says. “In many ways, that’s a good problem to have, but it still needed to be solved. And it’s fair to say that SCO has solved it. The queues are gone, our customers like it and our staff like it. Job done!