Retailer Reverses Course After Public Rebels On Self-Checkout

To address consumer concerns, the self-checkout kiosks at British grocery chain Booths will soon be gone.

With the two biggest supermarket chains in the UK, Tesco and Sainsbury’s, having installed thousands of self-checkouts while lowering the number of manned checkouts, the company—which has most of its 28 sites in northern England—is going against the self-checkout trend. According to managing director Nigel Murray, customers thought the self-scan scanners at Booths were sluggish, unreliable, and impersonal. He went on to say that Booths installed self-checkout kiosks six years ago to promote efficiency and control labor costs but that customers didn’t like having to wait for an employee to validate their ID when buying alcohol and that scanning produced was a pain.

The increasing resistance to self-checkout has retailers reconsidering the technology. Researchers discovered that compared to checkout lanes manned by human cashiers, self-checkout lanes result in more inventory losses due to consumer mistakes and deliberate stealing (termed “shrink”).

According to a survey of American, British, and European shops, businesses that implemented self-checkout lanes and apps had a loss rate of over 4%, which is over double the norm for the sector.

There are certain goods that either have more than one barcode or don’t scan correctly while using self-checkout technology.

Stores have implemented weight sensors and other self-checkout security features to reduce theft. However, these procedures have the unintended consequence of increasing the frequency of the annoying “unexpected item in the bagging area” mistakes, which force personnel to step in and fix the problem.

In response to consumer complaints, Walmart removed self-checkout machines from several New Mexico stores earlier this year. In response to reports of non-members using stolen membership cards at Costco’s self-checkout, the warehouse club increased the number of employees stationed in self-checkout areas.