Monday, 18 March 2013

Self-Serve Checkouts

My local branch of Asda has been busy removing some of their traditional, cashier-operated checkouts and installing yet more self-scan tills, this time with conveyor belts suitable for larger quantities of shopping.

My nearest Sainsburys already has a large number of self-serve checkouts, both ‘basket only’ style and ‘trolley-sized shop’ variety. However, despite the number of these checkouts, many shoppers still opt to queue at a cashier-operated till, especially if doing a large shop. I have to say, I’m not a big fan of the self-scan concept, and tend to avoid these tills if possible.

If I have just two or three items and the other queues are very long, I may be persuaded to go for the self-serve option, but it’s never an automatic first choice. However, if I’m filling a trolley, I find it quite enough just to load my shopping onto the conveyor belt, and then pack it at the other end, without having to scan it myself as well.

Indeed, there are quite a number of shoppers who actually need help to pack their purchases and therefore need to be served by a ‘real person’. The elderly, disabled, harassed mums with babies and toddlers in tow, or me on a day when my hands are refusing to work, all appreciate the human touch.
It seems that the most worrying aspects of increasing the number of self-scan checkouts is the effect it will have on staffing numbers. Fewer checkout operators need to be employed in supermarkets as a result, delivering yet another blow to employment figures.

Of course, you may feel that self-serve checkouts are a great innovation, and in small numbers they do have their place, but spare a thought for those whose jobs may suffer as a result and fellow shoppers who really need the input of a friendly cashier.

What do you think?

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