business news in context, analysis with attitude

Lots of reaction to yesterday’s piece about the growth of self checkout, and the slow but inexorable move to mobile checkout likely to take place.

• I agree that mobile is the next step - and will/should be offered as a choice.  Shopper choice should remain the key principle.  While the store certainly saves labor with self-checkout, the store can use this as a benefit:  re-deploy labor to higher-touch, higher-service activity to differentiate their store - and also the benefit to shoppers who just want a quick trip. - Jamie LaRue

• Visiting Finland over 13 years ago, we checked out the grocery stores and found at one store, you paid a coin to get a cart and as you entered the store you took a scanner from the display, attached it to your cart and scanned as you shopped.  When you were done, you loaded the scanner back, swiped your credit card, got a receipt and left the store, returning your cart to the corral.  I think we may have gotten our coin back.  There was a staffed checkout available, but not used often, though our relatives said they did checks on occasion, so when you checked out, you were instructed to go to the actual checkout person to be audited.  This didn’t happen often, but kept folks honest. - Jill Tolkinen

I have been told that when a customer steps into the check out lane they are on a magic carpet ride.  What happens at the checkout dictates whether a customer will return to you store to shop again.  I personally would rather talk to a real person than deal with a machine.  I feel that the demographic that I fall into at 57 years old requires from tradition a more personal approach, but the younger generation has became accustom to communicating through text messages and e-mails with virtually no human contact.  I feel that the self checkout is definitely the wave of the future but I also feel that that jobs will disappear never to return and definitely will not be used in other locations within the retail market. - Woody Weddington

Really? A magic carpet ride?

• I’ve gone from hating the self checkout to embracing the self checkout… so much so, that I am annoyed if I find myself in a store that does not have a self checkout option… I used to not mind waiting in line at the register… now I can’t stand it, knowing that if I could do it myself I’d already be out of the store… - Stacy McCoy

• I read about an experiment in the EU a year or two ago about a system that, similar to airport scanning equipment, allows a shopper and his/her cart to go thru a scanning system and the WHOLE order is computed instantly as all the bar codes are read at the same time..............Wonder what the status of that test is these days?     It's coming to your local food store one day. - An MNB user

• One of the main reasons that I actually like self checkout is the fact that it means that I do not have to deal with the surly, really-don't-want-to-be-there, checkers.  The friendly smile and occupational intelligence are long gone (for the most part), so why even try to deal with it?  But that got me to thinking (always dangerous).  Why do we even have checkout "stations" at all?  I'm guessing that it would not be too difficult to create the "check out shopping cart".  It would solve so many problems at once.  Getting a cart would involve swiping your payment card.  You go shopping and as you put things in your basket, the purchase totals would aggregate.  Passing the threshold of the store would cause your total to be billed (wheels locking up for a declined transaction, of course).  And a small reward could be refunded when you "park" your empty cart in a collection station. Hmm... - Jeff Folloder

And so it goes...
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