Last Updated on November 14, 2023 by Robert C. Hoopes
British supermarket chain, Booths, is joining other retailers in reevaluating their self-checkout strategies. The company has decided to remove self-checkout stations from all but two of its 28 stores, following complaints from customers about the slow and unreliable nature of these machines.
The decision by Booths comes after Walmart, Costco, Wegmans, and other US chains have also reconsidered their self-checkout strategies. Customers have expressed discontentment with the impersonal nature of self-checkout and have reported issues with misidentifying fruits and vegetables, leading to problems at the self-checkout stations. Additionally, employee verification is required for alcohol purchases, further slowing down the process.
While self-checkout machines were initially introduced to lower labor expenses, they have actually caused higher merchandise losses and increased incidents of shoplifting compared to when human cashiers manned the registers. One of the main challenges with self-checkout is that some products have multiple barcodes or barcodes that don’t scan properly, resulting in errors and losses.
In addition to scanning errors, customers have learned to exploit self-checkout systems, with techniques such as not scanning items or swapping cheaper products for more expensive ones. Retailers have attempted to tighten security features to prevent these thefts but have often encountered frustrating errors that require staff intervention.
Notable retailers like Walmart, ShopRite, and Wegmans have already removed or revised their self-checkout strategies due to customer complaints and financial losses. Costco, on the other hand, is increasing staff in self-checkout areas to address the issue of non-members using unaffiliated membership cards.
Even discount toy retailer, Five Below, is rethinking self-checkout in its new locations due to higher shrink rates associated with this technology. Instead, the company is opting to increase staffed cash registers to combat theft and ensure a smoother customer experience.
The removal or revision of self-checkout strategies by various retailers demonstrates a shift in focus from cost-saving measures to providing a more personalized and secure shopping experience for customers.