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5 things: Self-checkout under fire?

Here’s 5 things you may have missed in grocery

Self-checkout gets scaled back: Increasingly, store operators have been changing how they use self-checkout stations — both to improve the bottom line, as well as to give shoppers the checkout experience they want. While some retailers (Walgreens, Walmart) are eliminating self-checkout altogether to manage theft, others like Target, Dollar General, and Schnucks have set more stringent limits on self-checkout to manage lines and make things easier on employees. According to a Schnucks spokesman in this Wall Street Journal piece: “When self-checkouts were first introduced, they were intended for smaller orders. When its use grew to more items, there was a need for a rethink.” Are you part of the self-checkout rethink? —Chloe Riley

Uber revenue, Uber losses: It was a big week for rideshare company Uber and its restaurant delivery service, Uber Eats. The company made headlines this week with the announcement of a new partnership with grocery delivery company Instacart, wherein Instacart will include a link to Uber Eats on its service. It’s a paradigm shift in the industry where both companies are competing with DoorDash for market share. Uber also posted its first-quarter earnings results on Tuesday, showing that revenue grew 15% to $10.13 billion year over year. While the company celebrated the big revenue jump, it also reported a net loss of $654 million for the quarter. “Our multi-year growth framework is on track, with audience up 15% and frequency up 6% in Q1,” CFO Prashanth Mahendra-Rajah said in the report. “We reached a new quarterly record for Adjusted EBITDA, which grew 82% YoY, and we generated free cash flow of $4.2 billion over the trailing twelve months.” —Tim Inklebarger 

The origin of self-checkout: The year was 1987, a banner for some (me — my senior prom!) and a historical marker for grocery, as self-checkout made its debut. In this throwback Houston Chronicle column from Leon Hale from that year, Hale likens the debut of self-checkout to the moment when gas stations went from full service to self service. In 1987, Hale said he had his doubts about self-checkout. After all, once gas stations turned their back on customers at the pump, out went all the extra perks like oil checks, window cleaning, etc. Despite those doubts, he went on to predict the proliferation of self-checkout and electronic payments. Man, if we could only go back and ask him about Apple and home delivery (Amazon) and then go out and buy some penny stocks. —Bill Wilson

New QR codes are like gwádaa: Digital price displays, retail media networks, AI-powered shopping carts with personalized ads — grocers are trying anything and everything these days to build brand awareness and educate shoppers on why they should become loyal customers. But one grocery store in Haines, Alaska, which claims less than 2,000 residents, is using technology to teach customers the Alaska Native Tlingít language. The Chilkat Valley News reports that QR codes posted around Howsers IGA grocery store enable shoppers to hear the Tlingít word for products sold at the location. “Áanjis kahéeni,” for example (pronounced on-JISS kuh-HE-knee), is the Tlingít word for orange juice, the article explains. The project was brought to the store courtesy of the Chilkoot Indian Association. Store manager Kevin Shove told the newspaper that tourism season begins soon, and he’s eager to see their reaction to the project. “Tlingít words are hard to pronounce. So, I thought it was pretty neat,” he said. —TI

Avocados go big or go home: We’re talking big, like 260,000 big! The El Rio Grande Latin Market in Dallas wanted to come up with something big for Cinco de Mayo, and what better way to celebrate the Mexican fiesta than the biggest ever grocery display of avocados? There were 260,292 pieces of the fruit weighing 86,764 pounds, shattering the previous Guinness record of 77,365 pounds. Management began planning for the super sized presentation back in January, and it took a total of seven hours to construct. Students at a local elementary school did their part by creating artwork for the event, which was also celebrated with folklorico (a Mexican dance), mariachi, and a high school marching band. Later, Dallas residents dipped their chips into the largest guacamole bowl in the history of humans. —BW


According to a Schnucks spokesman in the Wall Street Journal: “When self-checkouts were first introduced, they were intended for smaller orders. When its use grew to more items, there was a need for a rethink.” Are you part of the self-checkout rethink? Let us know in the comments below, or email the SN staff at [email protected].

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