Self-Checkout is Changing Shopping

Sunday, July 30, 2006

NetworkWorld has an article about self-checkout. Since this has become a recurring subject here, I thought I should mentions some highlights:

According to IHL, consumers report buying junk food, supermarket tabloids and the like 45% less frequently while scanning their own purchases than when checking out the old-fashioned way.

Which makes perfect sense, when you think about it — self-checkout lines tend to be shorter, so you’re not waiting your turn as long. And instead of standing there waiting for someone else to ring you up, you’re busy doing it yourself.

…Retailers such as Meijer and Kroger have adjusted by offering items such as rotisserie chickens and fresh baked breads to rely more on the sense of smell to drive sales rather than simply visuals when trapped in a staffed lane.”

Our Albertson’s has started putting baskets of French bread next to the checkout. The self-checkout there also talks to me, reminding me to use a loyalty card I do not have. I suspect it will eventually offer me suggestions for other things I might want based on my purchases.

Shoppers logged $111 billion worth of self-checkout purchases last year, an increase of 35 percent over 2004, according to IHL. Fewer than a fifth of consumers report using self-checkout every time it’s available, while 29 percent say they do so only when the staffed lines look daunting.

The biggest gripe? That’s predictable: 55% say it’s when something goes screwy and they have to wait for a human being to come over and fix it.

Which is why I think customers who have proven to be good self-checkers (*cough*me*cough*) should be given system logins just like the employees so they can clear their own errors.

Be sure to also read the comments on that article. The first one confirms my “natural selection” theory of self-checkout. Those who adapt, thrive.