New research: Do self-service checkouts impact grocery store loyalty?

By our News Team | 2024

Findings show that self-checkout systemsdespite advantages in speed, ease of use and cost reduction can decrease customer loyalty.

In an effort to reduce costs and improve customer satisfaction, many retailers around the world are implementing self-checkouts in their stores. 


There are many advantages and disadvantages for both the customer and the retailer, but little formal research has investigated the impact of self-checkout on customers’ shopping experience. 


Recently, researchers from two US institutions – Drexel University in Philadelphia and the University of San Diego – examined how grocery store self-checkout systems influence customer loyalty compared to regular checkouts. 


Their findings and the full study are published this month in the peer-reviewed Journal of Business Research. 


The researchers established that the perceived ease of checkout, as well as a sense of entitlement, played a role in explaining the effect of loyalty. They also noted the number of items purchased during a shopping trip has an impact on how the type of checkout influences customer loyalty. 


“Our findings indicate that self-checkout systems, despite their advantages in terms of speed, ease of use and cost reduction, can result in lower customer loyalty compared to regular checkout systems – especially when the number of purchased items is relatively high (more than 15 items),” says Yanliu Huang, an associate professor.

Photo Credit: Greta Hoffman. Pexels.

Negative consequences of self-checkout


The study found that the extra effort required by self-service checkout, and the expectation of being served by the store staff, were negative consequences of self-checkout and therefore decreased loyalty to the store.  


But, when shoppers viewed the extra effort in self-checkout as a rewarding experience, their store loyalty matched that of shoppers who were served by checkout staff. 


The research is a compilation of five data-collection studies through crowdsourcing platforms. 


Haung and a second researcher, Associate Professor Farhana Nusrat, noted that this research could help inform retailers on whether they should install or remove self-checkout systems, as well as how to better manage them to ensure positive customer experiences. 


“For example, to overcome the negative impacts of using self-checkout on customer loyalty, retailers should attempt to make the self-checkout experience more rewarding, such as encouraging shoppers to think of the extra effort involved in self-checkout is a rewarding experience,” explains Huang.  


“Doing so offers retailers a solution to improve their self-checkout customers’ overall shopping experience, which in turn will facilitate higher customer loyalty.” 


The researchers added that there is opportunity for similar studies to broaden the focus in other retail settings – including clothing, home improvement and luxury stores. 


You can read more about the study, titled ‘Understanding the Influence of Self- Versus Regular Checkout on Customer Loyalty’, here. 

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    Dr Kin Kariisa

    Group CEO - Next Media

    Dr. Kin Kariisa is an extraordinary force at the helm of Next Media Services, a conglomerate encompassing NBS TV, Nile Post, Sanyuka TV, Next Radio, Salam TV, Next Communication, Next Productions, and an array of other influential enterprises. His dynamic role as Chief Executive Officer exemplifies his unwavering commitment to shaping media, business, and community landscapes.
    With an esteemed academic journey, Dr. Kariisa’s accolades include an Honorary PhD in exemplary community service from the United Graduate College inTexas, an MBA from United States International University in Nairobi, Kenya, a Master’s degree in Computer Engineering from Huazong University in China, and a Bachelor’s degree in Statistics from Makerere University.
    Dr. Kariisa pursued PhD research in Computer Security and Identity Management at Security of Systems Group, Radboud University in Nijmegen, Netherlands. As a dynamic educator, he has shared his expertise as a lecturer of e-Government and Information Security at both Makerere University and Radboud University.

    Dr Kin did his PhD research in Computer Security and Identity Management at Security of Systems Group, Radbond University in Nigmegen, Netherlands. He previously served as a lecturer of e-Government and Information Security at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda and Radbond University in Netherlands.

    Dr Kin did his postgraduate courses in Strategic Business Management, Strategic Leadership Communication and Strategies for Leading Successful Change Initiatives at Harvard University, Boston USA.

    • Other current and previous roles played by Dr Kin Kariisa:
    • Lecturer of e-Government and Information Security to graduate students at Makerere University, Kampala and Radbond University in the Netherlands
    • Director of Eco Bank Uganda Limited, one of the largest banks in Africa
    • Chairman of the National Association of Broadcasters, an umbrella industry association for all Television, Radio and online broadcasters in Uganda.
    • Chairman of Board of Directors of Nile Hotel International, that owns the leading hotel in Uganda, Kampala Serena Hotel.
    • Chairman of Board of Directors of Soliton Telmec Uganda, the leading telecom company in Optic fibre business managing over 80% of optic fibre in Uganda.