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What you think about: An all-self-checkout experience

We asked how you felt about Kroger testing a store in Tennessee that only had self-checkout lanes

After news broke that Kroger was testing out all-self-checkout lanes in a store in Tennessee, we ran a poll on our LinkedIn page asking if this was the way of the future. A convincing 73% of you said it was not the future, and here is what you said:

Christopher Andrews, associate professor and chair of sociology, Drew University

I was surprised to see this given a) how Fresh & Easy’s all self-scan stores tanked, b) how much stores lost through self-checkouts from theft, and c) how much the public overall dislikes self-checkouts (see here). 

I documented the industry’s introduction of this technology and the various problems that resulted so I am curious why they are attempting this, esp. since it doesn’t look like it will significantly lower labor costs if they plan to still have staff on hand to assist customers. Maybe save a bit at the margins by slightly reducing staff #s? But too much of the discussion has focused on the potential savings in labor costs from displacing low-wage, routine work and too little on the costs associated with the technology and the skilled labor needed to maintain it. 

I guess the industry just can’t let go of Clarence Saunders’ dream of the “giant robot store!”

Jerry Wagner, Senior Advisor, Coast Produce

Personally I usually use self checkout. I can’t help noticing elderly customers going through the checkout line conversing with the cashiers and people helping to bag their groceries. Almost all the stores I frequent have special needs employees bagging, getting carts, and helping people to their cars. All this provides a sense of community and service I would hate to see lost. However, the need for balance of both services is more about customers’ needs and preferences than just labor costs. How can a grocery retailer claim to be “your neighborhood grocer” and eliminate the neighbor interactions that help fuel that?

Connor Holt, Advanced Chemical Logistics

The real technology is with what Amazon is doing: no checkout, just pick up and go. But some customers will never want self-checkout so having an option for full service will still have a place. Maybe just make full service an option but it costs to use it? Five dollars per order or if you spend more than $150 it's free…like how companies handle shipping costs.

Matthew Naisbit, Key Account, Strategic Partnerships Manager, DIGI Europe

I see more self-service checkouts going forward. The use of self-scan/smart shop technology is increasing for convenience. I can checkout in under three minutes using scan-as-you-shop unless I’m random-checked. I was a late adopter to this solution and wouldn’t shop any other way. The trolley self service at Tesco is great.

Kent Heisler, Vice President, Heisler Egg Farm, Owner, Heisler Homesteads LLC

Who really wants to be a checker? Customer rudeness and backlash is horrendous. The evening and weekend help doesn’t exist anymore. Basic entry-level work ethics mean nothing. Robotics and self-checkout is the future.

Lew Morrison, Natural Independent Retail Supervisor, JOH

If I do their work for them I should get a discount on prices.

John Sickler

I don't like where it's heading but see this as the future. Retailers are being forced to do this to stay competitive.

Richard L., Replenishment Planner, Big Lots

Hopefully it will free up labor to the balance of the store for a better shopping experience.

Fred Andrew Simpson, Chief Operations Officer

I once heard that there are three types of customers in grocery. Self-check appeals to one of them, so expect to see more of it going forward.

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