News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Business

July 29, 2012

Are cashiers and cash registers obsolete?

If you've noticed lately, cashiers and cash registers are becoming scarce in retail locations.

With the increasing use of kiosks and digital checkout scanners, stores are using technology to speed up the shopping experience and make paying for items easier.

The latest retailer to do so is J.C. Penney, which just announced it will be getting rid of its cash registers and replacing them with mobile checkout devices and self-pay kiosks.

J.C. Penney CEO Ron Johnson said within the next year, he would like to see all cash registers disappear, and also said the new process will be extremely user friendly.

"My goal by the end of 2013 is to eliminate the cash route," he said. "You'll be able to check out anywhere anytime, from anyone including yourself, because we're going to roll out self-checkout to our stores next year. It's really cool and it's really easy because it's RFID-based. You don't have to scan an item. You just throw it down and there's the price."

Need to spruce up

Johnson, who helped Apple and Target grow into retail prominence, also said that brick-and-mortar stores still need to make continuous efforts to spruce up the shopping experience and make it better for consumers.

As the popularity of online shopping continues to grow, many retailers have put large amounts of effort into keeping up with the digital times by creating apps and adding more product selection to online stores.

But Johnson says as the physical and digital shopping worlds continue to merge, stores should still pay plenty of attention to their offline shopping experience, not just their online offerings.

"If I had to pick today, would I rather be an online-only retailer trying to compete ten years from now, or a physical retailer trying to compete ten years from now?" he asked the audience at the Fortune Brainstorm Tech conference. "Knowing that the digital and physical worlds come together, I'd take the physical retailer in a heartbeat."

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