Doherty’s in Carndonagh, Co Donegal has become the first Costcutter in Ireland to install self-checkouts in their store. Doherty’s operate two stores in Donegal – one in Ballybofey and one in Carndonagh with the latter winning the Supermarket Store of the Year at the 2016 Costcutter awards.
Renowned as being progressive retailers, customer service has always been the cornerstone of the Doherty success story. Operated by Michael Doherty and his parents Susan and George, like most independent retailers, self-checkout (SCO) wasn’t part of their short term plans. Michael explains, “We pride ourselves on customer service. Operating in local towns we strive to ensure that our customers have a personable experience when shopping in our stores. We value each and every one of our customers and as such we want them to know that we appreciate their custom and put them front and centre in everything that we do. I was very much aware of self-checkout in some of the multiples but didn’t think we were big enough for it and my understanding was that the main benefit is to reduce labour hours which we weren’t interested in doing. As such, I never gave it much consideration for our own stores”.
However, Doherty’s did have an issue with queues forming in the shop. The store has a busy convenience and trolley shop mix and the queues were having an impact on the transaction times of the trolley shops and the ability for convenience shoppers to grab their few items, pay and go. One way to alleviate this issue was to speed up their transaction times by upgrading their EPoS software and implement contactless payments. Michael spoke with CBE, his till supplier, who reviewed his operational model and along with upgrading his software they advised him to implement self-checkout.
Sceptical at first, Michael became very keen once he studied the business case presented by CBE and realised that it could deal with the queuing issue.
“We supply the NCR self-checkout solution which is the world’s leading self-checkout provider and they have a very scientific approach to SCO”, according to Brendan Kearns, CBE’s local Area Manager, “We utilise their experience in global retail markets to dissect each individual stores performance to understand if they are suitable for self-checkout. The results of this analysis provided an extremely compelling business case for Doherty’s which would allow them reduce queues and offer a better customer service”.
Following careful consideration and speaking with other retailers that had installed SCO, Michael made the decision to proceed with the implementation and it has proven to be a huge success to date. 42% of transactions are going through the SCO’s and it has dramatically reduced queues and improved overall customer service in the store.
Customers are delighted and the store is better equipped to deal with the influx of customers at peak periods. The newly designed queuing system for convenience shoppers allows them to choose the SCO’s first or proceed to a staffed checkout should they so choose. Overall, the addition of the self-checkouts has improved the shopping experience of the trolley and convenience shoppers.
The staff in the store are also delighted with the success of the SCO’s. From the outset Michael informed them that the self-checkouts weren’t there to replace staff. In fact, by improving the customer service they planned on having a busier shop with more customers that will enable them to hire more staff and this is how things have materialised.
Michael has been very pleased that he made the decision to install the self-checkouts, “In the past we tried to offer a good customer service but now we know we are. We can easily deal with the fluctuation and increase in customers at peak periods without needing to pull staff from the shop floor to man the checkouts. This enables staff to carry out important tasks in the store without any disruption and most importantly, our customers are getting served faster.”
Asked if he would recommend self-checkout, Michael concluded, “Yes I would. Maybe not for every store, but for shops that have the capacity to install them and need an answer to solve their queuing issue then SCO is the solution. Queues were our problem, a good problem to have in many ways, and SCO has solved it. The queues are gone, our customers like it and our staff like it – job done!