A little more about the self-checkouts, and the poll results

There is something about the rise of self-checkout stations at many stores I hadn’t considered until I read a thing in the business section of the Toronto Star, who quoted a source from the Wall Street Journal:

The stores need to staff for new services like online delivery which has become a ever-increasing attraction to many people, particularly in North America (and especially in the USA).

So they naturally want to cut current labour costs and redirect those savings toward the new services, which begins with reducing the number of human cashiers.

I’m not sure if all cashiers will become obsolete, particularly because many in-store shoppers still want at least a choice to choose between a cashier and an electronic station, but we all know that online delivery is not going to go away any time soon. And they need more money for that (trucks, gas, insurance plus pay (with benefits) if they pay benefits to their staff…).

It’s a changing world we live in.

The polls I inserted into my previous post reflect that many people prefer to have a choice. But, some are adamantly opposed to using the self-checkouts. This sounds vaguely familiar – back in the 80s when my mom joined the retail sector here in Canada, there was a big debate about Sunday shopping; whether or not to allow shops to be open on the ‘day of rest’.

We all know how that turned out.

There was another debate later, with debit cards being used in stores. Some people, particularly older ones, are not comfortable to this day to tap and go like so many of us are doing these days. It’s a matter of personal choice, of course, but if you don’t use debit or credit cards, then you can’t use the self-checkouts anyway…

Here’s the polls’ results:
Do you use self-checkout? 21 votes:

4 yes/always
13 sometimes
1 no
3 other (depends)
Do you think self-checkouts are a good idea, a bad idea, I like having choice, other? 19 votes:

3 good idea
3 bad idea
9 like a choice
4 other
Do you feel enticed to cheat at the self checkout? 16 votes:

1 yes/easy to cheat
4 no, too worried they will get caught
5 admit they accidentally cheated/made a mistake and didn’t seek out help to rectify
6 other

I was at a drug store with my 12yo kid last weekend and she asked if she can do the machine. We only had a couple of items so I let her. Well, kids! They are not afraid and happy to press buttons and insert cards and swipe this way and that…lol.

Even though I’m writing this post from Canada I recognize the international scope of this topic. Several people from other countries, namely UK and Belgium, stated that there were often malfunctions with the machines, and either no staff, or elusive staff, not around to help when there’s a problem.

The main chains that I’ve had exposure to, namely IKEA, Walmart and several grocery/drug stores, have staffed their self-checkout area with a person standing in the middle ready to jump in to help.

My first time using such a machine was a number of years ago at an IKEA and I commend them for being present and helpful. I found the machine easy to navigate and it didn’t break down on me, but there were some people who had an issue, or were confused, and the staff presence was much appreciated.

I think this is a crucial step for stores to include during the transition time in particular. Staff your machines. You can have one person manage four self-checkouts. They do that at IKEA. Successfully.

It sounds like in some countries, this is not the case, and when an issue does come up, it’s up to the customer to run around and look for assistance. This in itself would deter, and prevent, newbies to want to try the machine, including me. Or, it would increase fraud and theft in such situations. If there’s no staff to help you why not just walk out with your wares?

Personally, I don’t think I would have tried out the machine at IKEA had a staff member not been present, even though I didn’t need help. It was just nice knowing someone was there, and visible, to jump in if needed.

In terms of walking out without paying for my products, I don’t have that in me, but I have seen it happen.

A lot of readers have contributed to this conversation in the two previous posts, either by participating in the polls, or adding a comment on this or this post. As promised, I am linking to their blogs. If you want to meet some new bloggers, here’s your chance! 🙂

Here is their responses:

These bloggers are not typically using the self-checkout stations for various reasons:

The earth spins from Tampa, USA
Helina’s a hot mess from USA
Minnesota Prairie Roots from Minnesota, USA
TD from Ottawa, Canada
Pottymouth from Spain where there are no self-checkouts, but who is familiar with them with frequent travel to UK
Life in my Years from Bay Area, USA
Paper Pen and Mug Ireland

These bloggers like them, maybe even prefer them:

Allison Ottawa, Canada
Deb Washington State, USA
Jonathan England

These bloggers like to be given a choice, which isn’t always available:

Pam USA
Matt Pennsylvania, USA (YES but not for huge amounts)

Depends, may like them sometimes:

Paul Belgium (depends, doesn’t say either way but has too many issues requiring absent staff)
Andrew Oxford, UK (no, doesn’t want to do the work – but has used them)

People who voted:

TJ Fox Mid-west, USA
Mark South Dakota, USA
LA NYC, USA
Andrea USA
TracyEllen USA (she knows someone who uses them and cheats)

Thank you all for participating and contributing to this conversation!

TGIF…right? Been such a long week.

8 thoughts on “A little more about the self-checkouts, and the poll results

  1. I forgot about Ikea. I have used self-check out there and did need help one time using a gift card and someone was readily available and pleasant.
    When they first came out here you could use cash which I liked as I would use up change. But that seems to be gone now.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I was going to mention IKEA. They have the same system here (and probably everywhere) of one person assigned to four checkouts. This works really well — there usually isn’t a problem, but if anything does happen it’s really clear who you need to talk to.

    The ones that annoy me are the ones where there is no-one specifically assigned to the tills. If there is a problem in a store like this then it becomes a struggle to find anyone who can do anything.

    It’s not Friday any more. How’s your weekend going?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I like these machines as I know exactly how much everything is, so they can’t cheat me. The bad part is they are popular at Wal-Mart and some retail stores, so there is a long line and I invariably am behind someone with a big cart or someone breathing on my neck as I plug in my code. And then I deliberately try to mess with them but turning around.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I like your comparison with shopping on Sundays. Ugh, I guess it seems we might all be fighting the inevitable. (the ones like me who voted that we don’t like to use them.)

    And YESSSSSS!!! TGIF!! I get every other weekend off, and it is my weekend off. I’m really looking forward to it. 🙂 I hope you have a good one as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I used one just this morning on the way to work. I was in a hurry and that thing was a godsend. Also, in the U.S. at least, you can certainly pay with cash (though if you’ve ever tried to load a dollar into a change machine in an arcade only to have it spit back at you time and again, you may experience an eerie sense of deja vu).

    Liked by 2 people

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