NCR’s full cash-recycling (coin and note) self-checkout made its national debut at a Coop store in Szigetszentmiklós and has already replaced the work of three cashiers.
Reducing fixed costs and more flexible day-to-day operations – a member of the Coop chain can enjoy the benefits of self-checkouts for the first time. We talked with the owner Lajos Horváth, who also runs the store himself, about his experiences.
When and how was the idea formed installing self-checkouts in your store?
Our store has been operating here since 1989, and since 2000 as a Coop franchise, and I am the second-generation manager. IT solutions have always been present in the past in our store, for example, we have been using PRICER electronic shelf labels in the weekly variable fruit and vegetables department for years. Thanks to this, I was fortunate enough to meet the team of Szintézis Information Technology, who eventually delivered the entire in-store retail system.
It is no secret that the idea of a self-checkout was triggered by the potential in the efficiency increase and the profitability that comes with it, since one of the main indicators of any business is the ROI index, which is the rate of return on investment. Finding and retaining the right workforce is a huge challenge also in the retail sector, and a self-checkout offers a solution to this, so I have started to explore my options within this area.
Since you have already mentioned ROI, was there any upfront guarantee of a reasonable return?
I contacted Szintézis at the end of 2019 and the installation took place in the summer of 2021, so this also shows that I was not in a hurry to invest. There were several preliminary surveys, I was also doing research in my surroundings, and a feasibility study was carried out with the involvement of the manufacturer. The experts of NCR visited us in-person and travelled to Szigetszentmiklós, as they usually implement rollouts of chain stores. The real challenge was that my store is a single-store, so it was not possible to draw a solution that proves to work elsewhere. Several solutions were outlined, and a foreign reference visit was planned for a store of the same size, while we obtained approximate data on the return. However, seeing the possibilities offered by the system, and the Hungarian SCO references of the team of Szintézis and NCR in food/retail, I was sure that my investment would pay off, so I took the plunge.
How do you remember the installation and the first reactions?
Like any IT transition, it didn’t go smoothly, but I was prepared for that, and the proactive attitude of the professionals who managed the system, who dealt with all the problems quickly and provided training to the colleagues who managed the cash register, helped me a lot. There was, of course, some resistance to innovation among the staff, but as a manager you have to be able to deal with that, and I knew that if we overcame the initial difficulties, we would be more efficient in the long run.
Customers have welcomed the new self-checkouts with mixed feelings, but are now happy to use them, as they have reduced queuing time to a fraction, and can actively participate in the scanning process, which for most of them provides a user experience.
Self-checkouts have been in operation for more than half a year in your store. How satisfied are you with them?
I have to say that I’m fully satisfied, because I can replace three skilled cashiers with even a student worker, which makes the shift very flexible, the throughput of the store much faster. I feel that the system is extremely stable, and even if there might be some minor issues, the experts of Szintézis always solve them fast and in a way that they don’t happen again. And last but not least, the math really adds up. We generate significantly higher profits thanks to the automated cash registers and in my opinion, it is the most important argument.