To Self-Checkout or Not
From the very first moment that a self-checkout appeared, there has been a debate in retailing circles over the relative merits of traditional human-based checkouts versus systems where consumers handle their own transactions. It’s fair to say that in recent years a growing number of stores have chosen to add self-service lanes as a means to move consumers through the front-end at a lower cost.
Recent news that Albertsons LLC (not Supervalu’s Albertsons) was removing self-checkouts from its 217 stores has brought both cheers and jeers from consumers and industry watchers, depending on where they come down on the issue.
The company wrote on its Facebook page: “When we decided to begin removing the SCOT lanes, it was with one goal in mind: provide better customer service. It’s that simple. If you have a chance to talk with someone before you leave a store, odds are you’ll let us know how it went — whether we met your expectations, if there were items you were looking for but couldn’t find, etc., rather than not saying anything. We want you to tell us what’s not working so we can fix it. We want to know how we can better service you when you shop, and that interaction between you and our associates, right when you’re in the store, is key to making that happen. We’ve got other channels where we talk to you too, like through Facebook, Twitter and our website, but we know that the fastest way to resolve something or make your experience a better one is at the moment that you’re shopping.”
Kroger has also been experimenting with a store concept that uses it Advantage Checkout scan tunnel with read rates of 98.5 percent or higher to speed consumers through the front-end while freeing cashiers to bag items being purchased. A RetailWire poll in January found that 68 percent thought it somewhat or very likely that checkouts in the future would resemble Kroger’s tunnel scanner.
Self-checkout providers point to a variety of benefits for consumers and stores alike.
“It’s more about customer preference,” Greg Egan, vice president of retail solutions for NCR, told Dow Jones Newswires. “We’ve made dramatic improvements in the technology over the years but there’s always going to be the folks who want that traditional interaction at the end.”
- Albertsons LLC Ditching Self-Checkout Chainwide – StorefrontBacktalk
- Taking the “Self” Out of Checking Out to Make Your Shopping Better – Albertsons/Facebook
- US Supermarkets Look Beyond Standard Self-Checkout Service – Dow Jones Newswires/The Wall Street Journal
- SCDigest: New Kroger Bar Code Scan Tunnel Could Revolutionize Retail Checkout – RetailWire
Discussion Questions: Do you see the retail industry moving toward or away from self-checkouts? What will checkout stations look like in the future?