I started working as a box-boy about this time of the year in the spring of 1970. I had just finished basketball season as a sophomore and had exhausted my list of excuses why I couldn’t begin work! My older brother was my “supervisor” and he delighted in bedeviling me with the worst jobs and the worst schedule, just daring me to complain.
In those days, very few businesses had a copier machine-the technology was just too new and too expensive. Since my brother made out the schedule each week using a pencil, I discovered that it was quite easy to change it to suit myself! Unbeknownst to me, my Dad had just purchased a rudimentary copying machine that involved using special light-sensitive paper and a contraption with a heat roller. This would result in a dark, gray colored copy that was barely readable but enough so that my brother secretly began copying his schedule before posting it. I was very quickly apprehended!
Technology in this industry (grocery) has evolved, often slower than in other more hi-tech operations, but evolve it has, albeit at a snail’s pace and often even slower in our rural area! In 1970 people were just starting to become comfortable with checking accounts. Customers in general, and most specifically the elderly, resist change. Customers preferred to have cash in hand! That’s why for many years, we cashed payroll checks as a courtesy and Friday afternoons saw a line snake from the office clear down the produce aisle!
When MAC and ATM cards arrived on the scene years later, to say that the technology was not quickly embraced (at least locally), would be an understatement. Gradually our customers found out that carrying a plastic card was way easier than keeping track of a checkbook register.
Imagine the distrust, then, when we installed 4 state-of-the-art Self checkouts in 2022! We heard comments, complaints and mistrust. My favorite, which I could hear from my office was, “I DON’T WORK FOR COSTA’S!” Apparently, affording that customer the opportunity to avoid a checkout line and handle the transaction on their own met with extreme disgust!
I began tracking the usage of the self-checkouts on a daily basis to see how many customers actually availed themselves of the new equipment. In the beginning it was less than I had hoped but, gradually, those numbers began to climb as we felt they would. Now, less than a year later, a huge percentage of customers are taking advantage of the convenience. Where once we had four checkouts and the service counter, we now have 7 possible checkouts to speed up your shopping experience. 6