With tighter schedules, longer working hours and areas perpetually populated, most of us today seem to be running against time. This served as the perfect scenario for companies to offer its time wrapped customers the option of ‘self-checkout’. The offer was well received, as over the years an increasing number of companies and industries have adopted the technology. A time saver and an absolute feed to the gen-independent, this do it yourself culture has grown among us. Needless to mention it brings along with it a subliminal sense of accomplishment. Banking sector was one of the early adopters with the first ATM machine installed in the mid-1970s, soon the retail industry caught up with the first super market Self-Checkout System (SCO) installed in 1992. Moving ahead from the drive-in stage, the bigger giants of the fast food & beverage industry are working on innovative ways to make purchases more instant than the food itself.
According to a study published by the research company RBR, since 2008, the number of SCOs installed worldwide has been growing at the rate of up to 25% annually and is expected to more than double to 381,000 units by 2015. When the petrol pump industry introduced the ‘pay-at-the-pump’ feature in the early 1980s, beginning in Europe, drivers were rather perplexed with this alien technology, fearing if safety was being compromised. Today it’s a standard practice in many countries especially during the night, the developing countries are yet to implement this. This being said, the fuel corporations are known to continuously work on security advancements, using encryption technology to make the process more secure for the benefit of their consumers.
Every technology comes with its set of pros and cons, the latter being factors such as fear of the new, embarrassment in public, time consumed in getting acquainted with the technology, risk of frauds, technology failure, etc. However, with kiosks rolling out easy self-help tutorials and insisting on retaining minimum 1-2 security personnel in stores, the impact of negative factors is expected to lessen.
More and more industries are going the non-face-to-face interaction road, from movie ticket buying kiosks, to CDM & bill payment machines at malls, check-in kiosks at airports, card recharge terminals at bus stations and money transfer companies are not far behind. Other than online portals and mobile apps, one can also send money using a self-service kiosk situated in super markets & petrol pumps.
However, we must remember that no matter how modern we get with technology, not everything can be served on a platter. One cannot possibly order for a plate of noodles from a vending machine or a prescription for a broken bone. Well not yet!