Back to the roots of customer integrity

14 Jun

The topic I am writing about today will be all about a place we students know best – IKEA. More specifically, I am going to report about the self-checkout systems that can recently be found in stores. It must have been around March this year that I was having my first self-checkout experience. Just lovely!

So how does the system work? What you do is to collect all the items you want to buy, locate the self-checkout lane, pass the scanner over the bar code of the chosen item and wait for the on-screen prompts for payment method. It is actually quite simple to handle. Apparently, IKEA is not the only company believing in the service of self-checkout systems. Aura Sabadus, writing for the Financial Times, states that especially supermarkets increase self-checkouts.

Supermarkets are aiming to double self-checkout tills within three years, spurred by improvements in technology and recession-induced cost cuts. About 15,000 will be in operation across UK stores in 2011, up from 7,000 last year.“

Now I started wondering why firms like IKEA decide to implement something that could be quite harmful in security matters. I will now try to find an answer to this by working through articles of the Retailer Magazine, founder and CEO of Trusted Advisor Associates Charles H. Green, and finally hobby blogger Roshan and Utpalja.

The reasons for increased customer integrity


According to the Retailer Magazine, first advantage of such use might be the reduction of staffing needs and assurance of reliability, as every customer is provided the same service regardless of heritage or preferences. Furthermore, it is being said that self-checkout could pay a greater number of customers leaving at greater speed. This is quite convincing for companies aiming for higher profit margins.

Blogger Utpalaj, however, reports in a customer’s kind of perspective. She enjoys the ultimate trust factor she is given to. This is very important since for customers, trust automatically increases the process of taking caution to be worthy of it. IKEA seems to be pretty aware of the importance of customer satisfaction and loyalty. Same is perceived by blogger Roshan who says: “What makes IKEA spectacular is not its collection of goods or furniture, but its understanding of the psychology of humans and their impulsive buying decisions.”

Associated Risk and fears for companies

At this point I need to point out that shoplifting and shrinking losses are most fears of retailers. According to statistics of the Global Retail Theft Barometer, shrinkage loss amounted 1,36% of retail sales worldwide. Therefore, customers are not completely trusted in. As I experienced in March, IKEA staff still stood close to me in order to help, arrange and also monitor my actions. Charles H. Green concludes that IKEA must not only trust its customers to some extend but especially needs to trust its own employees to pay attention. “Interestingly the shrinkage is more due to staff than due to customers”, concludes blogger Utpaja. In this manner, it is quite advantageous for companies to reduce the amount of staff members by replacing their use with self-checkout systems.

Inconvenience for costumers

At this point, we should take a rather critical look from the customer’ perspective. According to blogger Roshan, worst about self-checkout tills is the moment at making a mistake while scanning. Imagine you scanned an item twice; you would not be able credit back the amount to your credit card. Instead, you were to go and wait in the “Return Items” section in order to get a refund. How inconvenient!

For this reason, Retailer Magazine is not surprised about the results of following survey. It was found that 48 percent of people said self-checkout was a nightmare, 46 percent complained that the item did not scan properly, 13 percent argued that they had to do all on their own, and a total of 12 percent disliked to always having to ask for help.

The Magazine concludes that it would be best to implement a hybrid system. That means offering a combination of cash and automated occupied to help those that cannot move on to the modern system but provide more convenient methods for those who usually are in a rush.


2 Responses to “Back to the roots of customer integrity”

  1. Fannysia June 26, 2011 at 9:21 pm #

    Hey!! :)) thanks for the awesome read 🙂 self-check out counters are new to me, especially when i first came to europe! the idea really benches on integrity, just like many things are – public transport in berlin etc. these are uncommon back in my country. As much as there are convenience for the customers, it is an irony that such self checkout counters can cause inconvenience like what you have mentioned as well.

    i found this really interesting encounter for self checkout counters.

    i like how you put headings to support your points 🙂 and it made it easier to follow your post! and it really made understanding much easier and further strengthened your points! thank you! and good job on your post! 🙂

  2. kiki June 27, 2011 at 9:28 pm #

    hey nadja,
    when I moved to Berlin, I also had to visit IKEA very often and also enjoyed the service of the self-checkout system. I also had the same thought, about shoptheft and wether it would be profitable or not (I have to admit, that I forgot to check-in a glass as I recalled after checking my bill). Furthermore, the fact that paying cash is not possible, was inconvenient. But the fact that actually the trust that IKEA provides the costumer is the main factor that may even reduce theft, is really interesting (and I had a bad conscience after “stealing” the glass). But on the other hand, I think that the fear of losing jobs to “technology” is also a drawback to this system. I am really looking forward to see how these systems are going to develop in the future.

    Thanks for your post!

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