Customers Hate Self-Checkout

Customers Hate Self-Checkout

July 29, 2022 Health Retail 0

We’re not talking about the early days of self scan. Remember those original self pay gas pumps? I never go into the gas station anymore! Those I do love. But, have you ever heard of self-checkout counters? With no need for a cashier and less wait time, it sounds like the best option for checkout there is! However, it appears that most customers hate it more than they love it.

Self-checkouts (SCOs), also called “self-service checkouts” and “assisted checkouts” (ACOs), are checkout machines where customers scan their items using barcodes, pack them in bags, and pay for them in a store without the assistance of a front-end associate or cashier.

With the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, self-checkout machines have grown in popularity and have also become the preferred method of payment for most customers. Usually, there are staff members around to supervise self-checkout areas and assist customers when problems come up. Self-checkouts can commonly be seen in a multitude of supermarket chains and fast-food restaurants.

In thinking of the needs of the aging older demographic, they seem to be the ones who are the most vocal about hating self-checkout. The complaints are mostly about how difficult it is to use the machines and how long it takes.

Senior-related services, like home healthcare, seem to like self-checkout for their clients because when they go grocery shopping, it can be a difficult and time-consuming process. Home care companies like to use SCOs to do their grocery shopping for their clients so that they don’t have to wait in line and can attend to other tasks more efficiently.

Types of Self-Checkout Machines

There are many types of self-checkout machines, but here are the three most common and used types: the scan-and-go self-checkout, the kiosk self-checkout, and the mobile self-checkout.

Scan-and-Go Self-Checkout

The scan-and-go type of self-checkout is when the store gives the customer a “scan device” to scan the barcodes on items they want to buy. After the customer’s shopping expedition, they need to go to an in-store checkout station where they can dock their scan device in a terminal and process their transaction. Thereafter, they pay for their items.

Kiosk Self-Checkout

The second type of self-checkout is called the kiosk self-checkout. This type of self-checkout enables customers to bring their chosen items to an in-store checkout station where the items can be scanned. The scanning is either through the items’ barcodes or by selecting an item type from the list of options being shown on the machine’s interactive screen. Customers pay for their items only via cash, credit card, or debit card.

Mobile Self-Checkout

The third and last type of self-checkout on this list is the mobile self-checkout. This type of self-checkout lets customers use a bespoke app presented by the shop’s owners or by a third party. The app will grant permission for the customers to be able to pay for their chosen items using just their mobile devices from any point in the store.

Pros and Cons of Self-Checkouts

Self-checkouts were implemented in stores for a reason — maybe two. Here are the seeming benefits of self-checkouts.

  • Self-checkouts reduce waiting time with smaller lines and also improve the flow of customers with faster checkout compared to the traditional staffed checkouts.
  • Self-checkouts also improve customer privacy and customer experience.
  • Stores can also benefit from self-checkouts with the decreased labor cost of fewer or no cashiers.
  • Because of the smaller size of the self-checkout machine compared to the traditional staffed checkout, there is also better in-store optimization with more free space which the store can use to add additional display cabinets, more self-checkouts, etc.
  • Self-checkout machines also help with the slowing of the spread of COVID-19. In 2021, Costco began to install self-checkout screens for their food courts, allowing their kitchen staff to focus completely on food preparation and service. Their self-checkout screens required payment only through a debit or credit card. This way, there would be no need for customers to exchange paper money or coins with the employees, preventing possible disease transmissions and the spread of the COVID virus.

With the many advantages that self-checkout offers, here are some of its disadvantages.

  • A disadvantage of self-checkout machines for stores is that they cost a lot of money to install. One example of this is the four-terminal POS system from ShopKeep. It costs around $2,800 per year — almost equivalent to the price of four cash registers that cost only about $2,000.
  • Self-checkout machines also break down often, which will lead to customers purchasing fewer items.
  • Cases of customers shoplifting are increasing. People that don’t normally steal are tempted to steal when it comes to self-checkout machines.
  • Inventory record corruption may also happen due to customers who are not trained and are lacking the knowledge on how to properly scan items. They may think that promotion items only need to be scanned once and, at times, might scan a different variety of a product that has the same price. These two scenarios can easily corrupt or damage the retailer’s inventory record.

Why Do Customers Hate Self-Checkout?

From the customers’ perspective, self-checkout can be a hassle. Here are some instances that make the shopping experience difficult instead of easy for customers using self-checkout.

  • In many instances, customers complain about the repeated robot-sounding messages in the machine. In response to this, the Tesco supermarket replaced the robotic sounds with more human-like voices.
  • There have also been some cases of thieves using skimmers (devices that record data from swiped cards and capture the PIN with an attached micro-camera) to steal money from customers. Hence, allowing some supermarkets, such as Tesco and Sainsbury’s in the U.K., to begin installing monitors with CCTV screens that show the customers a video of themselves using tills.
  • The next problem with using the self-checkout machine is that the older generation (who aren’t very used to modern technology) will have difficulty using it and may need some assistance in completing their transactions. Even though self-checkout machines were implemented to do away with customer engagement in order to decrease waiting times in line, some customers, if not most, prefer the one-on-one interaction with cashiers.
  • The self-checkout’s purpose is to cease human interaction between customers, cashiers, and baggers. But then, with the growth of the implementation of these machines, more people are becoming jobless, and others are saying it kills jobs and won’t use them or buy from stores or supermarkets with only self-checkouts.
  • Lastly, another problem is when barcodes and coupons won’t scan properly, or some technical issues with the self-checkout machine may surface and need assistance. Sometimes, these problems would take time to repair, further delaying the customer’s transaction.

The Future of Self-Checkout

Now, let’s answer the question, would our lives be better with self-checkouts, or would we be better off without them?

Self-checkouts give a lot of promises to stores and customers everywhere. But even with all that, people still hate them — they give plenty of headaches than they give benefits. Their disadvantages can hinder many from using self-checkout.

But for businesses, there’s no turning back now. Numerous supermarkets and stores, such as Walmart,  Dollar General, and Costco, are already following the trend that is only starting to grow. Self-checkouts are being installed everywhere, and it seems that they’re here to stay no matter what.

Customers hate self-checkout

In conclusion, customers really hate self-checkout machines because they are often unreliable, difficult to use, and can lead to joblessness. However, businesses seem to love them because they are efficient and can save the company money. Whether you like them or not, self-checkout machines are here to stay.