Skip Potter has spearheaded the information technology and in-store automation at convenience-store chain R.L. Vallee for more than 40 years. In 2018, he took a monumental leap in working alongside c-store equipment manufacturer Gilbarco Veeder-Root to create R.L. Vallee’s first self-checkout kiosk program. The platform was introduced at Gilbarco’s recent Retail & Fuel Technology Conference and is due to launch commercially early this year.

Given today’s tight labor market, in-store automation may reduce the total hours of labor for each employee. This is something Potter had in mind while crafting the self-checkout kiosk.

“Ultimately, it is about being able to either reduce hours or reallocate people from standing behind the counter,” Potter told CSP last summer [CSP—Oct ’18, p. 24]. “Instead of having two [employees] there, you can rotate one out to your coffee bar or out onto your floor. You can reallocate where you’re positioning people and, at the end of the day, ultimately reducing hours out of the budget.”

After observing the system and its effect on consumer behavior, Potter believes anyone can use self-checkout kiosks.

“A person uses it, they buy into it, and then they’re going to be a self-checkout person,” he says. R.L. Vallee’s technology stems beyond self-checkout kiosks. The company also offers fleet card payments—a means to manage, report and control fuel and maintenance expenses—that provide convenience, control, data capture and security and volume discounts to drivers.

17.4%—Growth of the global self-serve kiosk industry from 2016 to 2017, per Kiosk Marketplace's 2018 Census Report