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Retailers rely more on mobile checkouts

German retail companies see the greatest need for action for their stores in the use of mobile devices with checkout functions. Self-checkouts and self-scanning systems are second on the list of priorities. This is shown by the study POS Systems 2022, which EHI Retail Institute published this month. The industry organisation surveyed 44 German retail companies with a total turnover of 328.6 billion Euros and 36,800 shops in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

Changes in payment methods also pose challenges for retailers. They want fewer cash payments and more non-cash payment processes. In doing so, they want to make them more efficient and increase the speed of card payments.

Mobile checkouts as well as self-checkouts and self-scanning systems are at the top of German retailers' priority list. The trend towards cashless payment is also receiving a lot of attention. (Graphic: EHI Retail Institute)

Mobile checkouts and self-service on the rise

Retail companies wish to use significantly more mobile devices at the point of sale in future. This applies to both checkout and customer advisory service. Currently, 16 percent of the companies use mobile checkouts; more than half of the respondents are planning to do so. In customer advisory services, retailers are already using mobile devices more intensively (39 percent).  The majority also want to invest more in this area. Android is the dominant mobile operating system in retail, followed by Apple’s IOS. Microsoft-based systems hardly play a role in this area.

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The EHI study expects significant increases in the deployment of self-checkouts and self-scanning systems. All self-service variants will be progressively used by the retail companies surveyed. Above all, self-scanning using customers’ smartphones will continue to gain in importance. In the future, significantly more retailers want to offer this service in their shops. In contrast, investments in self-scanning hardware are expected to lose momentum.

Both self-checkouts and self-scanning will be offered in more stores of German retailers in the future. Above all, self-scanning via customer's smartphone is gaining momentum. (Graphic: EHI Retail Institute)

Above all, companies surveyed mention shortened waiting times, image building, opening new customer groups and more efficient staff planning as advantages of self-checkouts and self-scanning. Most frequently identified disadvantages are insufficient space in the checkout zone, inventory losses and investment costs.

The number of checkouts in use is steadily shrinking

In its study, EHI also considers the sales outlets of craft businesses such as bakeries, but also hairdressers and petrol stations. Thus, the study arrives at a total of 525,900 stores in Germany in which 976,900 POS systems are currently in use, which is 10,000 fewer than two years ago. The number of stores as well as the number of POS systems in use is declining in equal measure. This is mainly due to structural changes in retail, such as takeovers and mergers. The strong growth of online retailing also plays a major role here.

It is to be expected that the number of POS systems in use will shrink even faster in the future. More and more customers are using their smartphones to scan items and to pay for their purchases. In addition, autonomous store concepts that do without checkouts at all will gain in importance, further reinforcing the declining trend.

The number of retail outlets as well as the number of cash registers in use in Germany is declining in equal measure. (Graphic: EHI Retail Institute)

The average age of POS hardware in use is 5.9 years. Almost a quarter of the companies surveyed will replace their entire cash register landscape in the next two years, and more than 40 percent want to do this at least partially. Extensions with new components are also planned.

Cash registers are taking on more and more functions

Increased investments in hardware and software are necessary to meet the constantly growing demands of new functions at the POS. The EHI study suggests that the digital till receipt will become standard soon. While today about one third of the companies surveyed can issue paperless receipts, almost all of them want to be able to do so in the future.

Digital receipts are on the rise. Edeka Nord uses a solution from GK where customers don't even have to register to receive their receipt digitally. (Photo: Retail Optimiser)

Couponing is the functionality most used at the checkout today. Three quarters of the respondents already offer the service.  In future, retailers want to invest even more in this area.  The same goes for e-loading, the loading of prepaid and voucher cards. Customers will also be able to withdraw cash at even more retail cash registers in the future.

Linking and integrating sales channels is gaining in importance as well. More and more branches of German retailers are offering services such as click&collect, return of online purchases or ordering products with subsequent home delivery.

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Joachim Pinhammer

Joachim Pinhammer supports retail and technology companies with consulting and marketing expertise. He was Senior Analyst and Research Director Retail Technology at the London-based analyst group Planet Retail. Prior to that, he was the global marketing director for the retail division of Wincor Nixdorf (now Diebold Nixdorf). Joachim Pinhammer is a regular speaker at events organised by Messe Düsseldorf (EuroShop and EuroCIS), the EHI and further industry conferences. His reports are regularly published by trade magazines and online retail industry media.

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