/ Shopping

Should self-service be the future of shopping?

Man with a barcode on his head

Regulars to this site may remember a popular Conversation about self-service checkouts we ran in last year. Your enthusiasm for the subject inspired our researchers to include it in their annual supermarket survey.

When we asked you about self-service checkouts in July we got an avalanche of responses.

Spurred on by the strength of opinion, we made this part our annual supermarket survey and found that most of you would prefer to interact with a human being and use the conventional checkouts over self-service.

However, some of us are clearly in two minds about the whole thing. Half of us who use them think they are convenient and save time, which suggests we’d like to have the choice. And one of the themes from your comments was that they’re useful for a few items.

We also found out that you’re keen on other kinds of technology – 90% of you who’ve tried handheld scanners like them, for example. One reader told us: ‘Waitrose’s self-scan system is 100% better than any self-checkout system I have ever used. It is quick and simple and no unexpected items.’

I’m definitely one of the self-service confused – they drive me slightly up the wall and yet, like a moth to the flame, somehow I’m always using them. I look at the queue, feel like it might be quicker, and forget how much I hate being ordered around by a robotic woman.

Where do you, ahem, stand? Do you opt for the speed of self-service or wait around until a cashier becomes free? Or would you prefer it if supermarkets went with handheld scanners?

Joe Story says:
5 May 2012

I would never use a self service checkout as I really enjoy human interaction (I ran a retail shop for many years).One of the reasons I love Aldi is that their staff are friendly, efficient and very very fast.

I hope not, those machines are so easy to “break”. And mostly without trying or wanting to. Makes me wonder how or if they’ve ever been tested.