The tedious fight against the cash register snakes

Nothing annoys the German consumers when shopping as much as long queues at the till. This is shown again and again by studies. No wonder that now more and more traders are looking for ways to avoid the hated queuing. Regardless of Rewe, Saturn or Globus: The fight against the queuing has begun.

Take Rewe as an example: in a large shopping center in Cologne-Rodenkirchen, the retail giant has recently offered customers the option of directly scanning their purchases when they put them in the shopping cart. Either with a scanner provided by the shop or – after downloading the necessary app – with your own smartphone.

During the self-test, the whole thing works surprisingly well in the first attempt. The milk pack, the canned soup or the soda are held just before the cell phone is clamped in a holder on the shopping cart, the bar code is scanned and the item appears in a clear list on the mobile phone display – including the total price of the previously scanned product.
At the end of the shopping process, the list of purchased products is transferred to the self-service checkout in a matter of seconds and the invoice is automatically generated. The lengthy unpacking and packing at the box is eliminated. The only requirement to be able to use the offer: a Payback card.

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“We want to reduce the queues at the checkout,” explains Rewe project manager Julia Volks the motives of the dealer. The pressure on Rewe and the other dealers is great. After the “Adyen Retail Report 2018”, a representative survey among 1000 consumers, 58 percent of customers perceive queues as the biggest nuisance when shopping. Almost two thirds of respondents even said they had left a store for a queue without shopping – the maximum penalty for traders.

That is why Germany’s second-largest grocer is not alone with his advance. Edeka, Saturn or Globus – in the age of effortless online shopping, more and more retailers are looking for an enchanting formula against the annoying cashpoint snakes.

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Mobile payments in retail

Since the end of last year, the electronics chain Saturn, for example, has been offering customers at its largest branch in the center of Hamburg the opportunity to buy more than 100,000 products directly from the shelves and pay by credit card or Paypal. Although the customer then still has a switch to enable the scanned with the smartphone goods, so he can leave the store unmolested. Nevertheless, the offer is popular, according to Saturn. “It’s going very well,” a Saturn spokeswoman summed up the first experiences. As a result, the company has now extended the original three-month trial by another three months. Rewe even wants to spend a year on his pilot project.

The competitor Globus is far beyond the experimental stage. In 30 of the 47 large stores of the brand in Germany, customers can now collect the goods themselves with a scanner before they put them in the shopping cart and pay at the end at a pay station the automatically calculated amount. “Long queues at the supermarket checkout are a thing of the past with Globus’ new payment system,” the trader advertises on his website. The system is very well received and should be rolled out even further, said a company spokeswoman in St. Wendel recently.

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Self-checkouts are becoming more popular

One thing is clear: The trend towards self-scanning is gradually gaining momentum in Germany. Scanning directly while shopping is still the exception, but find self-service checkouts, where the customer captures the goods after the purchase itself, now more and more widespread. “By the end of this year, there will probably be as many as 800 to 1,000 stores in Germany offering this,” estimates Frank Horst from the Cologne-based trade research institute EHI. “That’s almost a doubling in two years.” The pioneers were Ikea and Real.

The self-service funds are especially popular with customers with smaller purchases, who wanted to stand with two or three parts not in line, knows Rewe expert Volks. Self-scanning immediately during shopping, on the other hand, is more used for large purchases.

In an international comparison, however, Germany is a latecomer when it comes to self-scanning. And that is probably also the consumers themselves. Many consumers are still strangers in dealing with the unfamiliar devices and in the end often prefer to stand in the hated queue.

Even the pilot projects of Rewe and Saturn, which have been rolled out with a great deal of effort, have so far received only limited approval. For the weekend, the possibility of mobile scanning in the Cologne Rewe Center of about 100 customers per day used, in the week it was less, it is said at the dealer. Saturn is called similar numbers. A Rewe spokesman assesses the situation as diplomatic: “Technically, a lot goes by now – the customer just has to accept it.”

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