Self-checkouts may be seen as quick and convenient, but only some shoppers are fans. In the North of England, grocery chain Booths recently announced that they would remove these facilities from most of their stores.
This is a historic firm, dating back over 170 years, and the impersonal nature of self-checkouts has led to their demise.
Do It Yourself?
The report discusses an interview with Nigel Murray, Managing Director of Booths, and the BBC. In the story, Murray talks about the usual issues with self-scanning, and many shoppers will be familiar with some of these problems.
“Our customers have told us this over time, that the self-scan machines that we’ve got in our stores, they can be slow, they can be unreliable, they’re impersonal,” Murray said.
“We believe colleagues serving customers deliver a better customer experience, and therefore, we have decided to remove self-checkouts from the majority of our stores,” he added.
Booths’ MD pointed out the problems that some customers had with purchasing alcohol and loose produce. The availability of a colleague couldn’t be guaranteed, especially when other customers were experiencing issues with self-scan.
These are concerns that many shoppers will recognize, but should self-scan checkouts be eradicated?
Pros and Cons
Many shoppers still argue that there is a place for manned and self-checkouts in stores around the UK and beyond. In budget chains such as Aldi and Lidl, there needs to be a self-checkout option for those who have called in to purchase just a few items.
From personal experience, and as someone who only buys a big weekly shop in these budget stores, there can be problems on all sides. Those loading many items onto the belt feel obliged to let other shoppers through if they have one or two products.
However, there is a limit, which can lead to awkward situations for those who don’t let those with fewer items pass. This is another argument for having both options, and ironically, Aldi has been introducing self-checkouts in many of their stores.
North South Divide?
Much of the UK’s population would suggest that the question of self-scanning could be part of the north/south divide. Those in the north of England are seen as friendlier individuals, while residents of the south are less likely to strike up a conversation or even say “Good morning” to a stranger.
Surveys tend to back this up. So would southern shoppers prefer self-scanning over a manned till? Booths are based in the north of England, so their view on the impersonal nature of self-checkouts makes sense.
In most supermarkets, there must surely be room for all options. If budgets allow, self-scanning and manned checkouts can co-exist if shoppers with fewer items have someone to talk to while getting groceries.
Matt is a journalist who began his career writing for print media in the 1990s. After filing cricket reports for local newspapers, he contributed to many periodicals in the spheres of sport, collecting, and food and drink. Having attended hundreds of concerts and sporting events, he now focuses on music as well as sport, and is happy to have lasted through to the digital age.