In a recent development likely to resonate with fed-up shoppers, tired of wrestling with the quirks and challenges of self-service, the once highly-anticipated movement has been officially declared a failure.
Previously hailed as a revolutionary enhancement to the shopping experience, promising unmatched convenience, self-service checkouts appear to have fallen short of their lofty expectations. Associate Professor and Chair of Sociology at Drew University in New Jersey, Chris Andrews, claimed that “they haven’t lived up to their promise”
“They haven’t saved stores money,” he told 3AW.
“They’re not faster and more convenient.”
Andrews explained that there really is no benefit to the consumer, instead, it simply transforms shoppers into unpaid supermarket employees.
“For consumers today, self-checkout doesn’t really offer any sort of economic incentive,” he said.
“It just invites you to do work for free for the supermarket.”
In contemplating the future of self-service checkouts, Andrews suggests a possible revival of the golden era of human service for those who don’t mind spending a little extra. However, bargain hunters should brace themselves to take on a more hands-on approach at the checkout, as discounts may be accompanied by the do-it-yourself way of shopping.
“In the competitive market, customers get to vote with their (wallets). And so a lot of this will be up to consumers to decide,” he said.
“I think what we’re going to see in the short term, near future is a sort of splitting or bifurcation where if you’re willing and able to pay more, you’ll be able to get in-person human service.
“But for those looking for low prices and discounts, you’ll be expected to take on more of the work.”
A potential return of a more personal touch to the shopping experience will no doubt be welcomed by those who have decried the introduction of self-service checkouts in retail outlets.
Even our very own Starts at 60 readers have voiced their opinions on the matter, with a large contingent taking issue with the technology, raising concerns about the human touch slipping away, replaced by the cold efficiency of machines.
As the debate over the longevity of self-service checkouts unfolds, whether they are poised for departure or set to linger a while longer, it becomes clear that the voice of the consumer holds the power to shape the checkout experience of tomorrow.