A few weeks ago in this column, I alluded to several changes/improvements that would soon be coming to Costa’s Supermarket. If you are a regular visitor, you are already aware of them before most people read about them here. At the end of September, we changed our cash register line-up from four regular lanes plus the service counter to two outside lanes with the inner two checkouts being replaced by self-checkouts! The service counter remains the same.
We added the self-checkouts for a number of reasons. Over 50% of shoppers prefer using a self-checkout to waiting in line – the number one complaint for shoppers everywhere! Many people use self checkouts to avoid having to interact with the cashier! And, since every retailer and business in the country is experiencing the same shortage of employees, a self-checkout eliminates the need for one person to be standing at the cash register the entire time the store is open.
We’re by no means the first in the area to add self-checkouts to our line-up. Many of you are already familiar with them but we’re always very cautious when introducing some new technology. I remember distinctly, the first day we opened with UPC scanners at each register 30 some years ago. There was a Herculean amount of work loading all those 25,000 + items into our computer – complete with cost, retail, department, description, taxable or non-taxable, WIC or non-WIC, food stampable or not, etc. etc. etc. And after all those many weeks of preparation, the absolute first customer to go through the checkout line was heard to remark, “SCANNERS! I don’t trust those things!”
Upon witnessing that, all I could think was, “I did weeks of work just to ensure accuracy and people aren’t comfortable with the technology”. In retrospect, I probably shouldn’t have been surprised. Most people are leery of anything new. When I was a boy, people resisted checking accounts preferring to have “cash in hand”. Several years later, the same people resisted MAC and ATM cards for no other reason than that it was new and sometimes confusing. Paying bills on-line without an envelope and a stamp took a while to catch on as well!
When I hear people complaining that they don’t like technology, I have a pat answer. Would you still drive a car without power steering? Power brakes? Why would you? When something is easier and better it only makes sense to embrace it and utilize it for the simple reason that it makes your life easier and better.
Self-checkouts shorten lines and speed up the checkout process. It gives you, the customer, control, privacy and convenience while offering a choice. On our end, it helps with scheduling. Now we have to anticipate (guess) how busy we’ll be at any given time of the day and try to have adequate help on site to take care of any spurts in business. If we guess wrong, we have people just standing around waiting for something to do. A self-checkout is always ready, willing and able to help you to a more satisfying, quick and accurate check-out experience. If you’ve been reticent in the past, maybe now it’s time to give it a try!