"There are a wide range of technologies to combat unnecessary waiting periods"
Interview with Ross Weszka, Head of Marketing at Bleep UK
When it comes to designing a modern checkout zone, there are many things retailers have in mind to streamline the processes at the counter. One thing that is seldom considered is that especially in supermarkets, customers also have to pack up their purchases. Fiddling with plastic bags can also be very time consuming. Ross Weszka, Head of Marketing at Bleep UK, talks about how innovative solutions for bag dispensing help save time and what else has to be considered when designing a modern checkout zone.
Bleep has recently launched the eebag, an innovative plastic bag dispenser developed to integrate into retail checkout counters. How can this solution improve the service at the checkout?
Ross Weszka: Great service is all about customers experiencing the least friction and reducing any unnecessary obstacles to make the checkout as efficient as possible. Customers benefit from their bags being ready, partially opened and waiting to be packed. This results in no wasted time on fiddling with opening static-glued plastic bags. The bag dispensing area is clutter free with no bag detritus to distract from a streamlined presentation of the checkout.
eebag improves service with a simple, single-component lock-and-load bag dispenser, freeing up space previously used for storing unstable stacks of manually distributed plastic bag packs often causing waste and hazardous debris. eebag dispensers have the capacity to maintain bag supply for an entire shift without the need to restock, allowing greater efficiencies of in-store packaging resourcing. Plastic bag stock monitoring and control is accurate and facilitates tighter inventory management with live access through back office software.
Because there is no distraction with locating and manually handling plastic bags at the point of sale, with eebag the customer service cashier can focus their efforts on customer engagement, scanning purchases and payment processing without having to worry about the availability or efficacy of bag dispensing.
What are the most important things a retailer has to take into account when designing a modern checkout zone?
Weszka: The most important issues taken into account by retailers are managing space behind and around the point of sale and checkout area. Bleep EPOS terminals are designed with this in mind, as all our terminals are compact with a small footprint, featuring built in modules, such as printers and scanners to save space and not take over a retailer’s checkout area. eebag reflects Bleep‘s ethos by being fully integrated into the physical and technological design of the point of sale. The integrated Bleep eebag unit is suited to customization with retailer brand livery of the robust, low maintenance unit.
Are there differences in the requirements between checkout zones for supermarkets and other stores?
Weszka: Supermarkets use a much greater volume of plastic bags, differentiating them from other types of retailers. eebag is committed to helping the supermarket industry in particular because it’s where packaging challenges are the most difficult and the impact of the bag levy will be the highest. With the greatest volumes of plastic bags in use, integrating eebag at the checkout means supermarkets and convenience stores are able to slash 40% of bag consumption, resulting in great cost efficiencies.
In supermarkets, customers often associate waiting times with poor standards and low brand prestige, as most shoppers will abandon purchases if they have to wait longer than a few minutes to make that purchase. Conversely, in certain luxury brand retail, an experience which includes waiting times at the checkout has been found to heighten some customer satisfaction indicators by giving the purchaser a sense of gravitas of the transaction.
Bag levies are already in place in much of the UK with England introducing a 5p minimum bag charge in late 2015. The accuracy of stock and consumption control eebag gives supermarkets is becoming an essential feature of compliance with environmental consciousness and regulatory fiscal compliance.
Which technology solutions can help retailers to design a modern checkout zone which meets the requirements of modern customers?
Weszka: Modern customers are demanding and how they spend their time is important to them. There are a wide range of technologies to combat unnecessary waiting periods and to work through heat mapping of queues and bottlenecks. eebag is scalable to complement these technologies with a seamless EPOS interface and smart features malleable to every retailer’s defined customer packaging strategy where plastic bags are in use.
With eebag technology, bags can be dispensed in two primary ways; by free flow, which releases a bag and debits the customer bill automatically. Alternatively bags are dispensed by limited flow, which determines according to the purchase volume and weight the required number of bags and releases this number only. An added eebag security feature prevents bags from being dispensed once a clerk logs off. Each unit can also operate as a bag vending machine at unmanned self-service points.
Payment solutions and EPOS technologies are also a key area of any modern checkout zone. These upgrade the customer experience through video displays and point of sale interactions, with the latest payment technologies, such as contactless and mobile phone payments, ensuring customer’s needs are catered for whilst speeding up the payment process.
In addition, self-checkout tills are rapidly growing in supermarkets across Europe, largely due to improvements in technology and the need to cost cuts and maintain bigger margins. These units are also perfectly positioned to take advantage of all the benefits eebag has to offer, as each unit can operate as a bag vending machine at unmanned self-service points.
Modern customers care about the environment. eebag reduces plastic bag consumption by 40% and customers appreciate the benefits of supermarkets taking responsibility in trying to reduce their carbon footprint. Technology needs to be affordable and the pricing of the Bleep eebag unit reflects cost consciousness for supermarkets and their customers whilst improving aesthetics of the check-out zone.
How can retailers streamline their checkout zones to make them faster and more efficient?
Weszka: Bleep EPOS terminals are proven to be fast and efficient with our integrated payment solutions meaning a transaction can be processed in as little as three seconds. Investment in this technology and adoption of the latest payment solutions streamlines checkout zones, benefitting both retailers and their customers.
eebag is designed to make life for the customer even easier by dispensing bags which are already open and by removing the distraction of excess bags and their waste. This relieves the customer from having to tear off and open fiddly bags, helping to save time and create a sense of order within the look and feel of the checkout.
Interview: Daniel Stöter; EuroShop First publication at iXtenso.com