The debate over self-serve checkouts

The Associated Press said that many grocery stores are reconsidering the self-serve checkout lanes.

In fact, one Massachusetts grocery chain is eliminating them.

And research shows more customers prefer the traditional checkout lanes.

I’m one of those customers. Letting someone else make sure all my items are scanned, bagged and ready for transport to my York Township home keeps my anxiety levels down (I can’t be the only one out there who dreads heading to the grocery store!).

A fellow blogger shares my views:

“I’ve struggled with items that won’t register with the scanner, or figuring out which of several kinds of zucchini or onions I had, since the pictures all looked identical and no identifying number could be found on the produce. And it’s annoying to have to flag down the cashier to ask for help; it’s like admitting failure.

Sometimes I just prefer a traditional aisle, letting someone else do the work. Besides, using self-service lanes leads to loss of jobs — and small talk or bits of gossip.”

Self service checkouts do have their advantages.

Sometimes it’s simpler to checkout my one or two items on the self-scanner than to wait behind someone with 50 items. The self-checkout lanes also allow everyone to relive playing “cash register” as a child – for real this time.

For me, it’s a brief reincarnation of my high school days as a clerk at a local grocery store.

The AP quoted a food marketing professor who said its about finding the right audience for the right type of machine:

“I think some of the stores are just deciding that, on the balance, it’s a negative. Other stores, because they have a different composition of shoppers, are deciding to keep it,” John Stanton, a professor of food marketing at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, said of the self-serve option.

“I don’t think this is as much a referendum on the technology as much as it is a match between the technology and the customer base,” he said.

So, where do you stand? Do you love the self-serve checkouts or run for the hills when you see them?

About Ashley Wislock

Business reporter focusing on retail for the York Daily Record/Sunday News. In my spare time, I'm a social media, sports, reality TV and celebrity gossip junkie. Contact me at awislock@ydr.com or 717-771-2029!
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3 Responses to The debate over self-serve checkouts

  1. Jo says:

    I like their convenience–most of the time. They are a real pain though, as one users stated, when it’s difficult to determine what type veggie/fruit is to be scanned or the scanner won’t accept a coupon. My least concern over them is job loss and I sure do not fanatsize playing checker. Many supermarket checkers are part-time students or women who don’t want to work full-time. I tend to use self-checkouts with no more than a half dozen items. Beyond that it’s too much of a hassel putting many and/or large items in bags that are full and having to switch to a new one only to have the damn machine repeatedly tell me to “Place the item in the bag!”

    • ashley wislock says:

      Sometimes I get so frustrated with the “Place the item in the bag!” line, I start yelling back, “It’s in the bag!”

  2. Jo says:

    Ashley–I do too but with a few expletives quietly thought. It is sooooo annoying.

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