Leading Russian food retailer X5 Retail Group has begun installing self-checkout (SCO) machines developed in-house at its Pyaterochka proximity stores to help with Russia’s social distancing efforts, the company said in a statement, according to bne Intellinews.
“Through the mass implementation of self-service technologies, X5 seeks to minimize contact between customers and store personnel. With 1,435 self-checkouts already installed at 369 stores, the plan for 2020 is to have a total of 12,000 units operating,” X5 said in an emailed statement.
The SCO system is the first hardware and software product to have been developed entirely in-house by X5’s innovation lab. Compared to similar self-service systems, X5’s machines cost four times less to mass-produce while offering superior functionality, the company claims. Five Russian enterprises are engaged in the assembly process, which creates additional jobs for the local population.
Following pilot testing in August and September 2019, the SCO rollout was given the go-ahead. Thanks to bulk purchases of components, the cost of SCOs was brought down by a further 25%.
Technical support and maintenance are fully integrated into the stores’ existing IT system, which makes these devices five times less expensive to operate compared to those of competitors, X5 said. In a poll of 32,000 customers, the machines received an average rating of 4.8 out of 5.
The current coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis is turning out to be a boon for e-commerce and technological advantages associated with retail in Russia. E-commerce was already growing at ten times the pace of the real economy and already accounts for about 4.5% of Russia’s 33 trillion ($444 billion) retail business, but the crisis is now catalyzing the switch to e-commerce, express delivery, and related advances.