The Joys Of Automated Checkouts At The Supermarket

6
775

From Our Man in Swindon:

But this week, things have got out of hand. The human-operated tills are now very much in the minority, reduced to a short row at the far end of the store, like museum pieces. In has come a huge bank of machines. The days of human contact as I shop appear to be over. It will be reduced to me shouting for help when Iā€™m asked for verification of my age upon buying alcohol-free beer. Someone ā€“ please God, someone with a pulse ā€“ will materialise to check I look old enough (I do), swipe a card, touch a button and that will be it.

And yet, despite there being human-operated tills, the writer goes for the automated checkout.

In the history of shopping, the supermarkets put the butchers, bakers and greengrocers out of business, because the shoppers did the work instead. You didn’t stand in line while a bloomer was grabbed off the shelf for you, you grabbed it yourself and then went to a till and paid for it. The benefits were that you needed a lot less shop assistants which cut cost, but also time for the shopper. You didn’t have to wait for the assistant, you did it yourself. Then you paid once at the end.

Automated tills are doing a similar thing, but the competition is internal. You can take either route, but the human tills are going to be more expensive. Not in money, but in time. Which acts as a disincentive to use them. People take the automated route. It’s sensible, and good customer service, for supermarkets to do this. Not only are till staff a cost in salaries, they’re also a cost in space.You can put multiple tills in the same space as one human checkout. It might even be that doing your own scanning is slower than Britney or Kayleigh, but you get started on it faster. You leave the store quicker and can get back to the important things in life, so customer service is improved by automated tills.

Yes, of course the automated tills are cheaper for the supermarket to operate. But competition between supermarkets each of whom can – and does – buy the same technology makes then cheaper for you too.

6
Leave a Reply

avatar
5 Comment threads
1 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
5 Comment authors
starfishBoganboyTDQ46Climan Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
TD
Guest
TD

It usually works well enough in supermarkets. It is sometimes slower at large hardware stores where often the bar code tags aren’t properly affixed – having had a need to buy bunches of black pipe and various connectors, elbows, caps, etc. recently.

Climan
Guest
Climan

Its a mystery to me how fresh produce counters (such as for meat) still survive at supermarkets, because I’ve barely ever seen them being used, this must be one reason why the German discounters can undercut their rivals.

Q46
Guest
Q46

ā€˜ The days of human contact as I shop appear to be over.ā€™ As happened at petrol filling stations years ago. In fact years ago there were no filling stations, petrol was bought on garage forecourts. A bell rang in the garage when your car ran over a wire laid across the forecourt. In due course a mechanic would appear, ask you what you wanted, operate the pump and fill the car tank, then you went with him to the office to pay. Not so many cars back then and petrol at 4/6 (22,5p) per gallon. Even when dedicated filling… Read more »

TD
Guest
TD

I remember the same sort of griping when banks first started installing ATMs enabling you get some cash quickly without having to stand in line at a teller’s window and write a check. No human contact. It’ll be awful. It wasn’t.

Boganboy
Guest
Boganboy

Being a total reactionary, I use the human staffed till. It takes me some time, but I pull out one of my books (not a kindle or whatever) and read. But of course I’m retired.

starfish
Guest
starfish

The whole model is nonsense

I walk in, get a trolley/basket, walk around select my produce, take it out again, someone scans it, I pay, then I put it back in my trolley then I take it to my car, take it out again put it into the car, drive home, take it out yet again and put it in my house

And people wonder why online grocery shopping is growing?