Stan Storti says the cost benefit of self-checkout changed dramatically when the pandemic hit. Adding self-checkout was a way to free up employees’ time so they could focus more on the “Spinx Clean” program, designed to keep the stores not just looking clean but also sterilized, says the president of Spinx, Greenville, S.C. The chain is piloting self-checkout kiosks from point-of-sale provider NCR, Atlanta. As of press time in late November, the machines were being tested in five stores with plans to be in seven by the end of 2021.

Since the implementation, Storti says, the chain has seen a 64% decrease in average wait times for customers. The way it works: One employee stands behind registers to serve customers at the three self-checkout devices, and a concierge in front of the moving que directs customers to the devices, cleaning them after each use.

“We felt that early adoption was really important,” Storti says. “So we kind of overstaffed that change management because we felt that quick adoption from our guests was critical for the solution to be successful.”

So far, the machines haven’t achieved the goal of redeploying store labor to focus on cleanliness, he says. But Spinx is still learning.

“If the lesson learned for us is that’s not something you can’t do, then we’re willing to accept that,” Storti says. “What’s really important to us is that the customer experience is a very good one. And we’ve got a lot of really good feedback from our guests about having that level of staffing and support for the change.”