Department of Mathematics

Meijer's, Inc., Okemos, MI

Self-Checkout Labor Cost Benefit*

Proposer/liaison: Connie Hook

Meijer is a supercenter retailer. The stores house a full grocery center along with forty other departments from clothing to sporting goods. On average each store has twenty- eight checkout lanes, four of which are U-Scan Self-Checkout units.

The new generation of available checkout options includes self-checkout. When self-checkout was launched in the retailing industry jobs were plenty, but there were not enough candidates to fill all of the jobs. Self-checkout was a way for the retailer to have four available checkout lanes open with only one cashier. Thus helping to solve the problem of a lack of job candidates.

Now several years later the economy and job market is vastly different. Even though there are enough candidates available to fill the positions the economy requires the retailer to justify the capitol expense of purchasing self-checkout with a monetary return on investment, not just a convenience.

A cashier manned checkout lane is controlled primarily by the cashier. The cashier is measured by the number of items per minute scanned. There are standards that are used to schedule and balance labor to transactions and items. With the express self-checkout units the guest is in control of the transaction. We know the self-checkout transactions are slower than the cashier run transactions. The self-checkout allows four transactions to be processing concurrently with one cashier.

Are the labor savings as simple as subtracting three cashiers? Are those savings realized 24 hours a day? Do you still have to have a cashier manned express checkout lane or is today’s shopper accepting of self-checkout as the only option for the smaller express size orders? If a cashier manned express lane is still required does that effect the self-checkout labor savings? If the number of items (order size) accepted at self-checkout was increased would that improve the labor savings? If the order size was increased at self-checkout could one less full order size checklane be opened saving that cashiers labor?

The information delivered from this project will be used as a tool in determining the self-checkout strategy for the Meijer store.

*This project summary was prepared by Connie Hook, Service Specialist, Corporate Development, Meijer.

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