Self-checkout (also known as self-service checkout and as semi-attended customer-activated terminal, SACAT) machines provide a mechanism for customers to process their own purchases from a . They are an alternative to the traditional cashier-staffed checkout. The customer performs the job of the cashier themselves, by scanning and applying payment for the items.
Payment by various methods may be accepted by the machines: card via EFTPOS, debit card/, electronic Ration stamp cards, cash via coin slot and bill validator, and in-store gift cards where applicable. Most coupons also have barcodes and can be scanned the same way that items are scanned, although some require entry by a member of staff.
Customers who do not want to interact with the cashier can use the self-checkout.
Self-checkout can also sometimes be faster than using a cashier lane. This can reduce the length of checkout lines (British: queues) and wait times. In a survey by NCR, 42% of customers said they liked the convenience of self-checkout, while 39% said it was faster than the cashier-assisted line. 90% of those surveyed responded as being users of self-checkout, with 7% of respondents saying they will always use self-checkout regardless of store lines and number of items. Survey respondents in Italy and Australia said they "always use self-checkout" at a rate of 13% and 9% respectively.
One advantage is that self-checkouts can, if the necessary investment is made, provide a partly multilingual service. (It cannot be fully bilingual unless the goods are labelled in all the relevant languages, which is often not the case.) For example, Tesco's Welsh stores which can serve customers in Welsh language, whereas finding enough fluent Welsh-speakers as staff can be difficult because in some areas only a small proportion of local people have Welsh as their first language.
Studies suggest that a large proportion of shoppers are tempted to shoplift due to the relative ease of fooling self-checkouts. For example, a person who (initially without intent to steal) does not scan an item, may remember that this was easy, and fail to scan other items deliberately. A 2012 survey with 4,952 respondents in the UK found that a third of shoppers had stolen this way, with around a quarter of the remainder stating they were deterred by the risk of detection. Non-barcode items such as produce, and store staff overriding (or ignoring) checkout alerts, were singled out as vulnerabilities, and poverty was not seen as a major factor. How cheating at checkouts is turning us into a nation of self-service shoplifters - Daily Mail online, 26 April 2012 The founder of one store video surveillance system estimated that "Theft — intentional or not — is up to five times higher with self checkout than when cashiers are working", although behaviour of shoplifters is becoming well known, and stores are now better at shoplifting detection. A 2014 survey in of 2,634 respondents confirmed the same general findings, but commented that the cost of additional theft was evidently seen as "tolerable" compared to the cost of other processes, such as manned checkouts, and harm due to poorer customer service arising from the slowness of manned versus automated checkouts.
In December 2016, Amazon announced a bricks and mortar store in Seattle under the name Amazon Go, which uses a variety of cameras and sensors in order to see what customers are putting into their shopping bags. The customers scan a QR code when they enter the store through a companion app, which is linked to their Amazon.com account. When the customer exits the store, the items in their bag are automatically charged to the account.
HybridCheckout from PeoplePos has taken the hybrid concept further by allowing the cashier and customer to do parallel and simultaneous scanning. This is achieved by adding a customer scanning area next to the cashier scanning area. The HybridCheckout solution allows for an increased throughput and a combination of cashier operated scanning and customer self-service.
A Java based open source self check client for libraries, which has been used at the University of Oxford, Oxford Developments at GAUG 2002 Archived from the original on 24 November 2012 is also available under a GPL v3 license.
Self-serving checkout counters drastically reduce the demand for low skilled workers, using technology to eliminate a key human player in the marketplace. The wide spread implementation of self checkout services will decrease in available jobs for low skilled checkout workers, some of whom have depended on such jobs for a living.