You’ve undoubtedly encountered self-checkout stations at supermarkets and drugstores.
Now, according to CNN, the do-it-yourself systems are spreading to clothing and department stores.
Kohl’s, H&M, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Zara are testing self-checkout at some stores. They can also be found at Uniqlo, Primark and other retail chains.
It’s obvious why the technology is attractive to businesses. One of their top expenses is labor. So any form of automation that reduces human interaction with customers is money in the company’s pocket.
The thing is, many consumers don’t like self-checkout.
A survey last year found that two-thirds of shoppers had experienced difficulties or failure at self-checkout stations.
“We’re in 2022. One would expect the self-checkout experience to be flawless. We’re not there at all,” Sylvain Charlebois, director of the Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, told CNN.
Self-checkout arrived in the 1980s and has gradually spread like a weed throughout various industries. Airlines, movie theaters, restaurants are all utilizing variations of the technology.
While I understand why these systems are on the rise, as a consumer I resent that businesses are so comfortable outsourcing their work to customers.
Because that’s what this is.
It’s not about customer convenience (although that’s the cover story many companies use). It’s not about greater efficiency.
It’s about making shoppers do the work of cashiers. Period.
And I’m fine with that — as long as I’m compensated for my labor.
Want me to check out my own stuff? Fine. Knock 10% off my bill.
Otherwise, all you’re doing is getting me to do your work for free, and probably frustrating me in the process.
People who give up at self-checkout lanes and abandon their goods are common enough that the industry has a word for them: walkaways.
On the other hand, there’s a word for people who perform tasks on a business’ behalf: employees.
Yeah, I’ll do self-checkout. But don’t think I’ll do someone else’s job for no pay or reward.