Even the controversial self-service machines have become commonplace. understand

According to a 2021 survey of 1,000 shoppers, 67% said they had experienced self-service counter failures at commercial establishments. Booth bugs are so popular that they’ve even spawned dozens of TikTok memes and videos, for example.

“We are in 2022. One would expect that experience self assessment it was perfect. We’re not there,” said Sylvain Charlebois, director of the Agri-Food Analysis Laboratory at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, who studied the service.

Customers aren’t the only ones disappointed with their experience. self assessment. Stores also have challenges in this regard.

Machines are expensive to install, often break down, and can lead customers to buy fewer products. Stores are also subject to greater losses and more theft at automated teller machines than at traditional, manned checkouts.

Despite the headaches, self-care is growing.

In 2020, 29% of food retail transactions were processed self assessmentThat’s up from 23% a year ago, according to the latest data from the IMF Food Industry Association.

Here a question arises. why is this often problematic and unpopular technology dominating retail?

clients doing the work

The introduction of self-service machines in 1986 was part of a long history of stores shifting work from paid employees to unpaid customers, a practice that dates back to Piggly Wiggly, the first self-service supermarket, in the early 1900s.

Instead of clerks behind the counter picking up items for customers, Piggly Wiggly allowed shoppers to walk the aisles, pick items off the shelves, and pay at the cash register. In exchange for more work, the model promised lower prices.

Oh self assessment, however, was primarily designed to reduce store labor costs. The system reduced cash costs by up to 66%, according to the Miami Herald in 1988.

The first modern self-service system, patented by the Florida company CheckRobot and installed in several Kroger stores, would be almost unrecognizable to shoppers today.

Customers scanned their items and placed them on the conveyor belt. An employee on the other side of the conveyor belt was picking up groceries. Customers would then take them to a central cashier area to pay.

The technology was heralded as a “supermarket revolution”. Shoppers are “becoming their own clerks as automated checkouts cut long trolley lines and reduce grocery staffing costs,” the Los Angeles Times said in 1987.

But self assessment He did not make a revolution in the supermarket. Many customers refused to work harder for benefits that were not entirely clear.

It took Walmart a decade to test the service. It wasn’t until the early 2000s that the trend spread more widely to supermarkets looking to cut costs during the 2001 recession and facing stiff competition from burgeoning superstores and warehouse clubs.

“The logic was based on economics, not customer-centric,” Charlebois said. “Initially, customers hated them,” he pointed out.

A 2003 Nielsen survey found that 52% of shoppers rated self-service channels as “good,” while 16% rated them as “disappointing.” 32% of buyers rated them as “great”.

The mixed reaction has led some US grocery chains, including Costco, Albertsons and others, to pull out the self-service machines they installed in the mid-2000s.

“Self-checkout lines become clogged as customers must wait for store employees to help with barcodes, coupons, payments and other transactional issues,” the Big Y supermarket chain pointed out in 2011 when you took out your machines.


The change to: self assessment it also created unintended consequences for stores.

Retailers have discovered that self-service stations are not self-contained and require regular maintenance and supervision, said Christopher Andrews, a sociologist at Drew University and author of “The Overburdened Consumer; “

While self-service counters eliminated some of the problems for traditional cashiers, they still needed to be staffed and created a need for higher-paying IT jobs, he explained.

Oh self assessmentAndrews added, “doesn’t deliver on what it promises.” The biggest headache for storekeepers is more losses due to error or theft than traditional cashiers.

“If you had a retail store where 50% of transactions were self-service, losses would be 77% higher than average,” said Adrian Beck, a professor emeritus at the University of Leicester in the UK who studies retail losses.

Customers make honest mistakes and intentionally steal from self-service machines.

Some products have multiple barcodes or barcodes that do not scan correctly. Products, including fruit and meat, usually have to be weighed and manually entered into the system using a code. Customers may enter the wrong code by accident. In other cases, shoppers won’t hear the “beep” that confirms the item has been scanned correctly.

“Consumers aren’t very good at trust scanning. Why should they be? They’re not trained,” Beck said.

Other customers take advantage of lax window controls and develop burglary techniques. Common tactics include not scanning the product, substituting a cheaper product (banana) for a more expensive one (steak), scanning fake barcodes attached to wristbands, or scanning everything correctly and walking away without paying.

Stores have tried to limit losses by beefing up self-service security features, such as adding weight sensors. But the added anti-theft measures also lead to more frustrating “unexpected items in the bag area” errors that require store clerks to intervene.

“There’s a delicate balance between security and customer convenience,” Beck said.

Self-service is here to stay

Despite its many shortcomings self assessment for customers and shopkeepers, the trend is only growing in the US.

Walmart, Kroger and Dollar General are opening exclusive self-service stores. Costco and Albertsons brought it back self assessment after removing it years ago. Amazon took the concept a step further with cashierless Amazon Go stores. It may be too late for stores to turn their backs on this service.

Today’s stores cater to shoppers who realize that self assessment it is faster than traditional cashiers, although there is little evidence to support this. But because customers are doing the work instead of waiting in line, the experience can feel like it’s moving faster.

Shopkeepers have also seen how competitors are setting up self assessment and decided they didn’t want to lose.

“This is an arms race. If other people do it, you look like an idiot if you don’t,” said David D’Arezzo, former CEO of Dollar General, Wegmans and other retailers. “Once you get it out of the bag, it’s very hard not to offer more.”

Another factor that accelerated the spread of self-service was Covid-19.

During the pandemic, many customers have opted for the service to avoid close contact with cashiers and packers. And challenges in hiring and retaining employees have forced stores to rely more on machines to attract customers.

This content was originally created in English.

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