These Stores Are Getting Rid of Cashiers and Checkout Lanes
Checkout lines are already under attack by Amazon, but may vanish entirely if stores get their way. When Amazon opened its first bricks-and-mortar Amazon Go locations last year — where customers can purchase products using smartphones, without cashiers or checkout lanes — there was some question as to whether other retailers would follow. The answer has been mixed, with self-checkout being a sore subject for retailers and shoppers. But there's another model some businesses are following: Apple, which enabled mobile points of sale throughout its stores over a decade ago, eliminating the need for checkout lanes or dedicated cashiers.
At the beginning of the year, Walmart really wanted to make its in-store payment app, Scan & Go, the successor to cashiers and checkout lines. But after testing the technology in more than 100 stores, it dropped the app four months later. "There was low participation," Walmart spokesman Ragan Dickens told Business Insider, noting that the scanners created "friction" for customers. Walmart is putting the lessons learned into Check Out With Me, which gives Walmart employees mobile checkout devices to use anywhere on the floor.
The Cincinnati-based grocery chain is rolling out its "Scan, Bag, Go" service to 400 stores this year. Shoppers can scan barcodes of items they want to buy using a handheld scanner or app. When customers are finished shopping, they can stop at a self-checkout to pay. Eventually, shoppers will be able to pay through the app. This isn't a reaction to Amazon Go: Kroger has been testing this technology since 2011.
BJ's Wholesale Club lets customers scan UPC codes on items as they shop and pay through an Express Scan pay station. It can be used for products beyond just groceries, and shoppers delete items and change quantities before they check out. BJ's launched the service in a handful of stores, but added it to 100 stores this year.
The McDonald's ordering kiosk has long been a familiar sight overseas, but didn't start appearing in U.S. locations until 2015. Now, McDonald's plans to add kiosks to 8,000 stores over the next two years. By 2020, most of its 14,000 locations will have kiosks installed.
You'll still see cashiers, but Starbucks Mobile Order & Pay, combined with its embrace of Micros checkout tablets and software, is slowly letting baristas be baristas. By May, mobile transactions accounted for 12 percent of all Starbucks transactions. Its 23.4 million users make it a more popular payment system than Apple Pay, Google Pay, or Samsung Pay.
Pizza Hut has been testing touchscreen ordering since at least 2014, but has more recently been deploying self-service ordering and payment kiosks. If you aren't looking to sit down in a Pizza Hut, the company's mobile app allows you to order and pay through a mobile device.
Panera rolled out its kiosk ordering system in 2015 and has made it a pillar of the Panera experience. But the fact that you can order and pay right from the table is making even the kiosks seem a bit superfluous.
Chili's began installing ordering tablets at its tables in 2013, and says it's noted an increase in orders, tips, and efficiency as a result. But being able to pay at the table was a much bigger deal five years ago than it is today, when customers can order and pay through their mobile devices if they're just picking up food.
In 2015, Red Robin rolled out a similar version of the Chili's tablets. Red Robin employees were among some of the restaurant workers enraged by the tablets' employee rating system, but it was an inevitability at yet another chain where you can already order and pay online for meals to go.
TGI Friday's has experimented with mobile payment since 2012 and tablet-based options since 2013. It moved to Microsoft tablets for waiters in 2015 and onto Ziosk table-based tablets a few years later. Considering that customers can already pay through their mobile devices, this chain has been chasing out cashiers for a while.
Another member of the class of 2015, when seemingly every casual dining chain added order- and pay-at-the-table devices. Waiters have complained about tips and customers complain about the newfangled technology, but Olive Garden's brass have made clear the kiosks are here to stay.
As Friendly's customers discovered, those games and videos on the table kiosks aren't free. The $2 charge is a learning experience on most of these kiosks, but one that Friendly's customers learned late after the chain brought in Ziosk tabletop tablets in 2016.
While not at all Outback Steakhouse locations, Ziosk tablets have been added by certain franchisees. Meanwhile, Outback is testing an app that vows to let you "dine on your time." Outback remains a bit luddite when it comes to casual-dining technology, but any place that allows online ordering will catch up eventually.
Applebee's launched tabletop tablets back in 2013, but they were a bit clunky even for the time. It has updated its PrestoPrime and Ziosk tablets and is testing an app that would allow diners to order from home, work, or the road and eat what they order at a table at Applebee's instead of out of to-go containers.
Chef Danny Meyer's haute burger joint began experimenting with ordering kiosks last year, while insisting that they wouldn't cost any jobs. But the chain — built on long lines at its Madison Square location and first satellite locations — went to mobile ordering in 2016 and has done its best to eliminate cashier transactions entirely.
Uno first began testing order-and-pay options at its tables in 2010, but went with Ziosk tablets in 2013. Though it's gone through a personality crisis in recent years — which isn't out of the question for a Chicago-style pizza place based in Boston — the tablets and online ordering have remained constants.
Ziosk tablets first cropped up in On The Border locations way back in 2012 and have increased in the years that followed. Since the tablets ask for feedback, a really negative review can bring a manager to the table for some damage control before diners leave.
It's had Ziosk tablets since at least 2014 and allows customers to pay and order at their table. You're starting to get the gist of just how little time casual dining has for cashiers.
Back in 2014, Smokey Bones announced that it would place Ziosk tabletop ordering and payment kiosks in all of its restaurants. Ditched by parent company Darden, the chain saw the tablets as just one way to help revitalize the chain. While waitstaff complain about the invisible ratings system and occasional customers might complain about the interface, management doesn't seem to be complaining about the efficiency.
Wendy's announced plans last year to mimic McDonald's and install ordering and payment kiosks at nearly 1,000 locations. This year, Wendy's CEO Todd Penegor said kiosks are the future of his business, but he wants mobile ordering, and fast-pass drive-thru for mobile orders as well.
At this point, the question isn't whether big chains will eliminate cashiers — they're doing it — but if smaller players will try to follow suit. Birdcall, with all of three locations in Denver, prides itself on chicken sandwiches and chicken-and-biscuit breakfasts. But this year, 90 percent of its orders come through their own self-serve, self-pay kiosks.
Just expect every fast-food chain to have kiosks for orders and payment. Jack in the Box already tested kiosks and liked the higher checks and efficiency, but passed on the idea initially. Earlier this year, CEO Leonard Comma said the burger chain has reconsidered its stance, citing rising labor wages, though he didn't set a timetable for rolling them out.
After watching sales slump and locations close, Subway introduced touchscreen ordering kiosks and a mobile app last year. Subway is also testing dedicated pickup areas for mobile orders after a three-year sales decline.
Taking a cue from Apple since 2011, all the stores in the Nordstrom family have folks on the floor who can process a transaction at any time. Granted, you can't make that transaction with cash, but you also don't have to wait in line for the cashier with people who do.
The folks at Home Depot haven't always excelled with electronic payments. But deploying a whole bunch of mobile devices on their floors in 2010 to allow customers to pay for items anywhere in the store has helped Home Depot keep better inventory and hustle people out the door much quicker.
Department stores — which used to simply keep cashiers in each department — are now letting consumers be their own cashiers. Macy's and Bloomingdale's launched the Mobile Checkout feature of the Macy's app this year. Once you download the free app and join Macy's free Wi-Fi network, you can browse, scan items to buy with the phone's camera, have coupons or sale prices applied directly and pay on the app with a pre-registered credit card. Special exit counters will verify purchases, remove security tags, and bag items. Certain departments, such as fine jewelry, are exempt.
If Home Depot had it, you knew Lowe's was going to have it. It doesn't make much sense to have everyone in a warehouse-sized store stream through checkout aisles anymore, which is why Lowe's debuted more than 42,000 of its own mobile point-of-sale devices back in 2011.
Urban has also been chipping away at the cashier position since 2011, when it introduced its own mobile point-of-sale devices to let customers check out with just about any representative in the store. It hasn't eliminated cashiers completely, but it's brought them a step closer to extinction.
That's "Buy Online, Pay In Store." Dozens of retailers have adopted this model, which lets you shop at home and avoid a delivery fee by picking it up in the store — just get to the customer service counter and go. With this strategy becoming more prevalent, it isn't surprising the customer service areas of stores such as Home Depot and Lowe's have become nearly as large as checkout.
Burger King and Tim Hortons, the Canadian coffee and doughnut chain it bought in 2014, introduced kiosks in international markets long ago, making them key to a global redesign in 2015, but they're already appearing in the wild here in the U.S.
The Bell takes no half measures. It rolled out self-service order and payment kiosks and delivery this year and plans to have kiosks in all stores by 2019. As it stands, you can already download the Taco Bell app, order, pay, and skip the kiosk and cashier completely.
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