Does your small business need a self-checkout machine?

Self-checkout can save you money and keep your employees and customers safe, but it’s a major investment


The COVID-19 pandemic has inspired many small business owners to embrace digital technologies. One area that has seen a lot of growth is the use of self-checkout machines. Read on to learn the pros, cons and costs of self-checkout.

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The COVID-19 pandemic has inspired many small business owners to embrace digital technologies. One area that has seen a lot of growth is the use of self-checkout machines.

Self-checkout machines range from the kiosk-sized models you may have seen at your supermarket to cashless “small footprint” models. Some restaurants are opting for tabletop tablet models.

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Pros of self-checkout machines

There are many benefits to self-checkout machines. One is the savings they bring over time. Although they are an investment, they may cost less over time than paying an employee to operate an individual point of sale terminal.

A single employee can oversee activity at several self-checkout terminals at one time, assisting customers with any questions they may have or technical issues. That can free up your team to do other things that add value, like welcoming customers and selling to them.

Beyond this, there are health and safety benefits. You will need to make sure to sanitize a self-checkout machine frequently to avoid the spread of germs. But because they reduce in-person contact, they can help protect both your team and your customers from the spread of illness. And you may draw more customers if consumers feel your store is safer to shop in than others.

See related: How to clean your credit card

Cons of self-checkout machines

Some terminals break down frequently, and if you don’t have someone on your team who is good at fixing them quickly, it may lead to lines at your other terminals or outages until you can call for technical help.

There is also the potential for theft at self-service terminals unless you have a team member who is keeping a close eye on activity.

How much does a self-checkout machine cost?

It ranges from several hundred dollars for a simple touch-screen kiosk to about $125,000 for a four-lane supermarket-style setup.

The amount of employee training you must do varies with the employees you have working with the terminals. For someone who is technically savvy, it may take only a few hours. Others may require more time to get up to speed.

Having one of your team members take charge of the training and assist employees who are having trouble can be very helpful.

Is self-checkout right for your business?

It is important to weigh factors such as your customers’ buying preferences and habits, the volume of sales at your place of business and your budget. With self-checkout terminals proliferating, paying attention to how customers are interacting with them in the places you do business can help you get insight as to whether using one or more would be valuable for you.

See related: Which mobile card reader should I get for my business?

Bottom line

The payments industry has been making major strides, and the COVID-19 crisis has accelerated the growth of new options such as cashless payments and self-checkout terminals. Self-checkout terminals can be a valuable tool for many small business owners to add to their arsenal at a time when many customers are trying to socially distance.

If they sound appealing but you cannot afford one now, set a search engine alert for news about them. It’s likely there will be new, lower-cost options coming out in the near future, as adoption becomes more widespread.

Editorial Disclaimer

The editorial content on this page is based solely on the objective assessment of our writers and is not driven by advertising dollars. It has not been provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners.

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