Longo's tests self-checkout in Toronto

Independent grocer introduces six kiosks to its busy Maple Leaf Square location

Ontario-based independent grocery retailer Longo’s has started testing self-checkout at one of its stores in downtown Toronto.

The six terminals were introduced earlier this month on a trial basis at the Maple Leaf Square store.

The intent of the self-checkout systems is not to reduce staff but to provide a better in-store experience, said Bill Zachopoulos, senior director of operations for Longo Brothers Fruit Markets. “We want to make sure they are in and out of the store as quickly as possible.”

The store has a large customer base of younger shoppers living in nearby condos, and also enjoys a strong lunch time business from people working in the many nearby office towers. “Our customers are telling us that they are looking for ,” said Zachopoulos.

READ: Shoppers Drug Mart giving self-checkouts a new voice

Automation has been an important theme across the grocery industry in recent years, with rapid advances in technology coinciding with the general desire across business for greater efficiency and cost containment. In retail that has meant a steady rise in the use of self-checkout.

According to Verified Market Intelligence, the global self-checkout market was valued at US$2.71 billion in 2017 and is projected to reach $4.95 billion by 2025.

“I would say these machines that we put in are more customer friendly than ever,” said Zachopoulos of the systems, which were supplied by Montreal based Sir Solutions.

To speed up the transactions, the machines have been customized to reflect the most common purchases and expected customer behaviour at that store, he said. For example, to make things easier for the many salad and hot bar customers, pictures of the containers are on the homescreen; customers simply tap on the image and place the container on the scale to get the cost and process the purchase.

Zachopoulos said there were “no definite plans” to introduce more of the self-checkout systems at this time. “We just installed them, we are testing and learning,” he said.