Is Philippines ready for self-checkout counters? Watsons PH weighs in
MANILA, Philippines — From Singapore to Northern Ireland, self-checkout counters are now the norm, giving customers a seamless and contactless shopping experience.
As such, can self-checkout also be applied all over the Philippines?
Based on the experience of personal care retailer Watsons Philippines, which has tried setting up self-checkout counters in its SM North Edsa, Powerplant and Greenbelt Makati branches, self-checkout counters are effective, said the company’s Vice President and Customer/Marketing Director, Jared De Guzman.
“People went to the stores, tried it and they enjoyed the experience,” De Guzman told Philstar.com in an exclusive interview.
Self-checkout counters, he said, are also helpful especially in stores lacking in manpower and in lessening long lines in cashiers.
But based on their experience, too, from their SM North Edsa and Powerplant branches, there are customers that still need assistance in using the counters. There are also those who commit manual errors, like scanning the barcode twice.
As such, De Guzman recommend self-checkout counters for those who only purchase 10 items or fewer.
“For those who only buy only a few items, the self-checkout service is really an advantage,” he enthused.
Without innovations like self-checkout, the Philippines “would still be stuck in the Stone Age of lines where you’d be given a number,” he quipped.
While Watsons plans to also roll out self-checkout stations in its upcoming SM Mall of Asia store and other branches nationwide, De Guzman does not recommend it to be done in all stores all over the Philippines just yet.
“I wouldn’t say that it’s for every industry. I think, for every retailer, they have to understand their customer muna like how they shop. Because there are some who really don’t want to self-checkout. For example, in a supermarket, there are people who prefer the cashier to be the ones to checkout for you if you’re already tired from shopping.”
Besides self-checkout, the brand introduced innovations in its newly opened Greenbelt 5 store:
More defined categories
The brand’s 1108th store is around 200 square meters of retail space that sports the label’s more modern, clean and complementary colors, said De Guzman. The category names set in huge, LED-lit typeface, so they can be easily spotted even from afar.
“In the past, when you go to a Watsons store, na-assault ka, ang daming ganap, ‘di ba? Parang, bibili na lang ako pero ‘di ko maintindihan kung saan ako pupunta. So what we said was, ‘Let’s make the design of the store complement the brands,” De Guzman expounded.
According to him, it took them months of work designing the store, and they are implementing the same design with SM Beauty starting with its SM San Lazaro branch.
“We’re trying to do the same approach – make the store more calming. We don’t want the store na parang nagagalit na ‘yung store, na parang lahat na ng discount gustong ibato sa’yo.”
Exclusive, premium offerings
The new shopping area highlights the Derma category for advanced dermatological needs; and the Sustainability area for sustainable choices. De Guzman said the categories of the store’s design is based on customers’ profiles and industry trends.
Based on their research, customers want more choices particularly in Korean beauty. Late Gen Y to Z customers are inspiring the brand to find new brands, and this demographic share their values like the demand for more sustainable options.
Hence, the label responds by selling more dietary and health supplements, beauty products, skincare and cosmetics from all over the world.
“Fil indie” or Filipino independent beauty brands, he said, are on the rise as more and more Filipinos get easier access to a global set of manufacturers. These Filipino labels, he said, do not only curate or formulate their own products, but also share values and employ models that resonate with Filipina beauty and skin.
“Nowadays, a lot of our Filipino indie brands are really, really good. Sometimes they’re even better than international brands,” he vouched.
While the brand is rolling out the same design to all its national stores, not all brands will be in all stores. The premium brands will be exclusive to its Greenbelt and Powerplant shops.
“Because the customers here are well-educated. They have a certain level of skincare. They’re well-traveled, so we want to make sure that we don’t only offer super basic stuff. We also want to enhance their experience,” De Guzman explained.
Among these exclusive brands are Dr. Jart+ and Beauty of Joseon – with Dr. Jart+ only available in Watsons. There are also some brands hailing from Watsons’ high-end LOOK beauty stores that are now available in the pharmacy stores. De Guzman ensured that these come in very competitive prices as compared to Korea, as they try to deal directly with manufacturers.
“S’yempre kung masyadong mahal, hindi rin s’ya gagalaw,” he said, assuring buyers that they only carry “original, authentic” stocks even in the label’s online stores.
Labeled shopping baskets
Another novelty found in the Greenbelt 5 store are baskets labeled as “I’m okay to shop on my own” and “I’m OK to be assisted,” in Watsons colors pink and blue, respectively.
De Guzman shared that the categorized baskets were based on their Club Members monthly survey from across all stores that found out that while some customers want to shop by themselves and do not want to be bothered, others still need assistance.
Apart from carrying hundreds of brands – with a highlight on trendy and up-and-coming ones, the new Greenbelt 5 store, as in other Watsons stores, also offers free makeovers and services such as vaccinations; click and collect express wherein items bought from the brand’s app can be ready for pickup in 30 minutes; and express delivery, which enables one to order from the app, and have the products delivered at one’s home or office in two hours or less.
“We always try to be one step ahead of our customers,” De Guzman said of the company’s continuous mission to innovate.
“Kunwari, happy na kayo sa self-checkout? We’re still cooking up something,” he teased about what they tout as the “store of the future” that he assured would be like a scene from a futuristic movie like “The Jetsons.”