Self-scanning checkout, also called "self-checkout" is an automated process that enables shoppers to scan, bag, and pay for their purchases without human assistance. Typically, a self-scanning checkout lane looks very much like a traditional checkout lane except that the shopper interacts with a computer's user interface (UI) instead of with a store employee.
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The shopper begins the checkout process by touching the computer's welcome screen or, with some systems, by simply beginning to scan items. Once the checkout has been initiated by the shopper, the computer's animated voice provides the shopper with step-by-step instructions about how to scan their items and where to place them once they've been scanned.
NCR's FastLane™ self-checkout is illustrated here.
When the shopper scans an item, the item's barcode provides the computer with the information it needs to determine what item is being scanned, as well as the item's weight and current price. If the store uses security tags, the system can also deactivate them during the scanning process. If the security tag is not deactivated, an alarm system sounds when the shopper leaves the store.
When the computer's animated voice directs the shopper to place the scanned item in a waiting shopping bag, the item is really being placed on a security scale.If you tried to fool the system by scanning a candy bar and putting a roast beef in your bag instead, the system would tell you to remove the item and scan it again. At the same time, the system would alert a cashier supervisor to pay attention to what was going on at that particular checkout stand. Typically, there is a cashier supervisor for every four self-scanning stations.
Depending on the system, payment at a self-scanning checkout can be made by debit card, credit card, or cash.