Self-checkout counters. Full review
I had long planned to write a post about self-service cash desks, but did not know how to tackle it and which side to approach. The topic is quite extensive and telling the whole basis would be long enough. As a result, for the first article, I decided to review the solutions presented in the Russian market in the field of cash self-service.
For America and Europe self-service cash registers cannot be called something new. The first cash desks were installed by Optical Robotics in 1992. And in 2004, the company was already acquired by Fujitsu along with the entire line of U-Scan machines. At the same time, NCR Corporation also fought for Optical Robotics technologies, which at that time had its own FastLane self-service checkout line.
In Europe, in addition to NCR and Fujitsu, self-service systems are represented by cash desks ITAB , Wincor Nixdorf and IBM (together with Toshiba).
In Russia, the picture is slightly different. Developers of self-service cash registers in Russia are represented almost exclusively by intermediary companies that have received equipment for resale and after-sales service. Almost no one leads their own development, which is strange for me. Especially when you consider the objective mistakes of existing solutions. And on the other hand, it’s easier to sell what is already on sale and not try to do something better and worthwhile.
What can be found on the Russian market now? This solution is from Wincor Nixdorf, NCR, ITAB, Fujitsu.
Self-checkout counter Wincor Nixdorf
What is Wincor Nixdorf? This is primarily a brand. Very good and recognizable in the market of equipment for retail. Behind him is not one decade of successful work on the development of cash registers. Surely everyone came across their Beetle system units at the facility. In addition to iron, the company also develops its own software for the cash register.
iSCAN Pos Tower 150 Cineo
The customer self-service solution has the sonorous name of iSCAN Pos Tower 150 Cineo. The prefix “Cineo” means that this cash desk is equipped with a cash receipt module from the Japanese company Cineo. Cash processing modules can be supplemented with a back-office counter to automate cash flow in the store. In the future, such a system will allow you to credit money immediately to a bank account, but now such functionality in our country is still in development. From the interesting - you can deposit cash in a bundle, as well as pouring a handful of coins.
Cash desk is delivered to the Russian market without a fiscal registrar and bank pinpad. The latter is provided by the bank, and the integrator of this solution in Russia will provide the fiscal registrar. Thanks to the presence of its own division - this is Wincor Nixdorf himself, or one of their partners.
The Beetle MII Plus from Wincor Nixdorf acts as a POS computer. In addition to the box office, an assistant station can also be purchased in the kit. Its main purpose is remote monitoring of what is happening at the checkout (in fact, a remote desktop to each checkout). Is it necessary or not? The big question is, in my opinion, the assistant is better to move around the self-service area and monitor the work of buyers. And do not sit on a chair in front of this station. Still, the task of an assistant is help, and what help can be without contact? Although here you may disagree, so let us leave an opinion on this issue to each of us.
The appearance is impressive - a massive, well-assembled box office. And inside is a sight for sore eyes. All wires are neatly put into pigtails and special protective blocks. All connections are made perfectly - in a word - German practicality. By the way, such practicality weighs very decently - about 520 kilograms.
Modular assembly is great. That is, replacing the modules, we can get completely different functionality. But this is not Project Ara. Rather, this approach facilitates production and simplifies the assembly line. After choosing a solution, the client will not be able to change the configuration at his first request. But still, he still has some room for maneuvers. So, when compared with examples from the world of gadgets, this approach is more likely Motorola X with the ability to assemble for yourself.
Case material - plastic with a metal frame. At the stage of approval of the delivery set, the color scheme of the solution is also selected.
Here everything is simple and at the same time “like everyone else”. In fact, there are no differences, different manufacturers are just a different weight analysis algorithm. If you dig a little deeper, then theft control at the self-checkout counter is always built as follows:
- A person scans a product;
- The system compares in its database the scanned product and the previously known weight of this product;
- The buyer puts the goods in a package (under which a weight platform is hidden);
- If the weight of the scanned and put goods coincides - everything is OK, if not - an error.
What to do if the product, for example, avocado. Sold by the piece and the weight of each varies greatly. This is where the algorithmic work begins. To simplify, then for each barcode the system stores the weight and the allowable range of weight fluctuations. As a result, for some products the spread is large enough, for others - small. In addition, the system itself changes this range based on scanned goods (expands and narrows).
The accuracy of the scales is about 5 grams. In addition to weight control, among the standard “solutions” there is an assistant who monitors the customer’s work process. In case of suspicious actions on the part of the buyer, the assistant will stop the atrocities.
There is no cash program in the classical sense. To work, you will definitely have to dock the existing cash program and graphical interface from Wincor Nixdorf. Simplified diagram will be approximately as follows: there is a program that implements a graphical interface. The buyer, by pressing the buttons on the screen, calls the interface methods for events. For example, it scans a product barcode. The interface method returns a data structure to the graphical interface, the information in which is filled in by the methods of the internal structure of the cash program. For example, product name, price, quantity, etc.
This approach has its pros and cons. Plus - you can always integrate into any information structure (if you have certain resources - any cash program can be added to interact with the Wincor Nixdorf interface). And minus - you are limited in the framework of the interface. That is, it is impossible to display information that was not foreseen in advance or to do it in a way that is not provided for within the existing elements.
Self-Service Checkout NCR
The second player on the list and the first by market share. Almost 70% of the self-service checkout market is owned by this American company. Helps them in this Wallmart and Tesco. The largest retail chains using SelfServ. This is what the self-service checkout line is called. Personally, I really like the name - speaks for itself. Unfortunately, (unlike Wincor Nixdorf) there was no possibility to delve into the device live, so I’ll tell you about a solution based on publicly available information.
What it looks like - rate it in the picture below:
Outwardly similar to the solution from Wincor Nixdorf. The only difference is in the cash payment system. It is not represented by a separate module. Which in turn will not allow to deliver a solution for payment only with non-cash funds. Looking ahead, I note that not all customers in principle need a method of payment only by credit card. If in St. Petersburg and Moscow the share of cards in the total volume of payments for purchases can reach up to 25-30%, then in the regions it rarely exceeds 20%.
But, despite the inability to allocate a cash-in module, NCR cash registers remain flexible and can be equipped with various shelves for packages and change their functionality.
About the cash-in module - manufactured by MEI BNR. Strong average, nothing outstanding. He does not know how to accept banknotes in a bundle, unlike the decision by Wincor Nixdorf. You need to pay for the purchase by inserting one bill. In addition, there is no way to supplement cash receivers with a back-office counter to automate cash flow in the store.
Case material - plastic with a metal frame. Also, when ordering a cash register, you can choose a color for painting.
I will not repeat myself - the logic of work is identical to that described in the Wincor Nixdorf section.
Again, no surprises. All the pros and cons of the item about Wincor Nixdorf. Similarly, there is no own cash program. Only an interface with a set of methods has been implemented that can invoke the cash program with appropriate refinement on its part.
Self-service cash registers ITAB
The third in the review, but the first in customer focus, is the Swedish manufacturer of self-service cash registers, ITAB. The Swedes entered the self-service market relatively recently (in comparison with NCR, for example). But this is certainly a boon.
Firstly, these are fresh trends in design. ITAB successfully revised the experience of existing solutions and created their own - new and to some extent error-free existing solutions. Here you will not find bulky modular designs in something - each table is ground for its own tasks. Hence the benefits - weight, size and appearance.
And secondly, an open API. If you want to use the existing docking scheme / graphical interface - use. If you want to create something of your own - please! This is what our team is doing. We wrote our visual part and adapted the existing cash program for working with new devices (during self-service, a number of new objects appear, such as a weight base, signal stand, exit gate, etc., which are absent in the “regular” cash register).
Forms, weight, ergonomics - that’s what we caught on when choosing with whom to start work. ITAB has everything at the highest level.
Unlike the NCR / Wincor Nixdorf solution, it does not have a modular design. For each task, its own cash desk has been designed. The customer at the stage of the pre-project examination receives recommendations (based on the load on the cash register) about the need to choose one or another solution.
In addition to software, we manufacture our own hardware. One of our know-how is the fanless VikiPOS system unit (the entire case is a solid radiator, the wires are hidden inside, which prevents accidental “breaking” and many other interesting details). Cash desk ITAB is made on the same principle. It has no fans, which means less maintenance is required. But with VikiPOS, this does not affect the work.
In addition, the cash desk is equipped with its own fiscal registrar - Pirit K. In addition to a stationary scanner with a weighing platform (Magellan 8400/9800), there is a hand scanner for heavy goods that simply cannot be lifted and scanned on a “large” scanner.
The cash-in mechanism in our solution is similar to Wincor Nixdorf. Therefore, we will not consider it separately.
In terms of weight control, no innovation. Everything is like everyone else. The accuracy of the scales under the platform with packages of about 3 grams.
And here you can stay a little more. Nobody has this on the market. Automated exit gate. According to our idea, self-service cash registers cannot be randomly located in the cash zone, but should be fenced off from the common territory with an ordinary fence. Thus, the entrance to the service area is possible from the trading floor, and the exit is only through special gates. The gates are equipped with a scanner and only customers with a paid check can go out. There is no rfid magic here. A self-checkout counter prints a special barcode on the check. The buyer goes to the gate and scans the barcode. If all is well, the gates open. What could go wrong? For example, the buyer will try to go out on yesterday’s check (the gate will not open) or he will try to go out again on the “used” check.
What else does such technology give? We get rid of the need to constantly keep a guard in front of the self-service island. In addition, the buyer, even in the park, will not leave the self-service island without paying for the purchase (for example, when paying with a card, a refusal check was printed due to a lack of money on the card - it can also be accidentally mistaken for a cash receipt, being lost in thought).
And so, we reached the most important thing - our own cash program. To be honest, I’ll say that our team did not have to invent everything from scratch. The company has an excellent development - the front-office solution Set Retail 10. Based on it, a self-service cash desk was created. What have we benefited from? Easy integration with all products of the company, simple docking with any goods accounting system. The richest functionality (almost any loyalty system, bank acquiring, etc. - accumulated luggage for many years of development of Set Retail 10). In addition, we are updating along with the parent product, and for customers with Set Retail 5/10 we are just “one more checkout”. No thoughts on docking or restrictions - just plug our cashier into a power outlet and plug in. Will be working!
Of course, a lot of work has been done on the user interface. But all this has already been described in detail by my colleague in his article. Who cares - welcome to the link .
Instead of a conclusion
I deliberately excluded the decision of colleagues from Fujitsu from the description. Since they already started writing about self-service cash desks, I won’t bother them - they will probably tell about themselves in colors on their blog.
As for the future of such decisions, it is still difficult to say. Cash desks will definitely appear in all major networks across the country. How soon? A year or two, I guess. Our mission is very simple - we want to make a Russian quality and friendly product. As far as we succeed - time will tell, but for now we will try.