Should Self-Checkouts Stay?

Self checkouts have been popping up everywhere and a lot of people dislike the transition. I personally, don’t hate the self checkout concept, though sadly, in practice it doesn’t feel like the way of the future or more convenient to use. I haven’t had the worst experience with self checkout systems, yet I do prefer the traditional and streamlined checkout procedure.

So what and why exactly don’t people like self checkout. Well, this may be due to several thousands of people sadly experiencing failure while using one. Some of these machines may only take cash, only take cards, or sometimes both. This is very inconsistent and makes going to one of these machines make you feel rather edgy since many Americans don’t always carry a card and/or cash. This means that if you’ve never used a self checkout before in your local Dollar General, Lowe’s or Family Dollar, you may not be able to use them and in some stores, self checkouts are the ONLY way to purchase products.

Secondly, the machines are expensive to install, often break down and can lead to customers purchasing fewer items. Stores also incur higher losses and more shoplifting at self-checkouts than at traditional checkout lanes with human cashiers. Self checkouts also take away job opportunities and maybe even put people out of a job.

Self checkouts may be getting a sour reputation now, but this wasn’t always the case as earlier back in the early 1900s, Piggly Wiggly offered lower prices along with their self checkout practice. Back then, people didn’t have an ill will towards the self checkout, they just didn’t want to do more work which is far from the only complaint that people have nowadays. The interesting thing is, you debatably do more work now, than you did back then.

Stores that adopted the self checkout moniker have had their own reasons for doing so, whether it be to reduce costs, or to give more incentive to shop at their store. Walmart ended up abandoning the business practice within 2 decades after starting this practice in 1986. Walmart specifically rolled out self-checkout to streamline operations and reduce labor needs, but was swiftly taken advantage of by people.

On average, if 50% of transactions went through self checkout, there would be a 77% increase in losses due to errors, lack of knowledge, or intentional theft. The pandemic also hastened the speed in which these things were rolled out and a lack of human contact isn’t mankind’s favorite thing out there. Despite these shortcomings, it seems as if self checkouts are being pushed HEAVILY.

Walmart is now joined by Amazon, Kroger, and Dollar General with Self Checkout only stores. I’ve only experienced these types of stores with Walmart and Dollar General and they haven’t been terrible and are more so things you just have to learn and get used to. It bums me to have to ask an employee for help, but it hasn’t been a poor user experience. I feel like if self checkouts get expanded upon and gets all the kinks worked out of it, it could be a great addition to grocery stores without taking away valuable spots for employees.