Self Check This Out

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Self Check This Out

07/15/2011

We’ve used quite a bit of ink covering self-checkout systems over the past few months, and the coverage has been both positive and negative. First was a piece in a previous newsletter about a drug chain making a poor use of its self-checkout units. This month in our PG TECH supplement is a story on Fresh & Easy, which uses 100 percent self-checkouts – only it doesn’t refer to them as self-checkouts, but rather “assisted self-checkouts.” Fresh & Easy’s deployment of these machines is among the best I’ve seen, as the company not only leverages the systems to stay close to its shoppers, but it also gives each store a sense of efficiency, as it has every lane open, all the time – a claim many grocers can’t make.

But even Fresh & Easy may have to move away from its 100 percent self-checkout model if a proposed California law passed requiring bottled wine sales to be vended by fully-manned checkouts only. Adding to this challenge is the increasing number of products that require intervention on the part of store staff when scanned at the self-checkout and it’s easy to see why operating self-checkout is more difficult for some retailers today than it has been in the past.

These reasons – plus the fact that it feels they result in a drop of service levels – are why Albertsons LLC is removing every self-checkout unit from its stores.

Me, I’m a big believer in choice, and that the customers should dictate exactly how they shop your stores.

What do you think? Progressive Grocer would like to know your opinion of self-checkout machines. Please email your comments to me at [email protected], and I’ll print the most interesting ones in my next technology newsletter later this month.

I look forward to your responses!

Joe Tarnowski