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In the UK, the Daily Mail reports that Tesco has opened its first self-checkout-only store in Kingsley, Northampton, which “has a total of five self-scan tills overseen by a single member of staff but no manned checkouts. It is described by the company as an 'assisted service store' designed to increase efficiency and speed up the shopping process.”

According to the story, the new Tesco Express store is raising some concerns, with critics warning that “the move marks the end of basic human interaction during weekly shopping trips and could eventually cost thousands of jobs.”

And a spokesman for Walmart-owned Asda Group, one of Tesco’s biggest competitors, tells the Daily Mail that “hell would probably freeze over before we had a store with no customer interaction at all on the checkouts.”

Tesco says it has gotten no complaints and that lines seem to be moving faster in the new store.
KC's View:
irst of all, I’m not entirely sure I buy into the notion that manned checkout lanes equal a quality interaction between two human beings. It can, but not necessarily. in fact, not so much.

Too often, the person manning the checkout line is too busy talking to her friend on the adjacent lane to actually talk to the shopper. Or just finds interaction too much trouble.

My question to Tesco would be, are you using the self-checkout lanes purely to save money on labor? Or are you taking at least some of the people that you used to have at the front end, and placing them at strategic places in the store where they can actually talk to customers, help them find things and maybe ever (gasp!) sell stuff? Because this approach could ratchet up the human interaction, not eliminate it.

Furthermore, I have to say that to be honest, there are shopping trips when the whole idea of human interaction is way overrated. Not always, but sometimes. On those days, for those trips, maybe the Tesco Express in Kingsley, Northampton, would prove to be my store of choice and that the self-checkouts there would actually be a differential advantage.