Avon population

Self-checkout lanes enhance the shopping experience

Hello, my name is Ryan. I love using the self checkout lane. I think it makes the shopping experience easier, and it’s a hill I’m willing to die on.

I haven’t always felt that. Truth be told, there was a time when I completely avoided them. My wife would still use them if we went shopping together often with no problem. But, every time I tried, it was inevitable that something would go wrong. An item wouldn’t scan, the scale wouldn’t register the weight of what it asked me to put on it, or it would think I put something in the bag without scanning it first. It was an incredibly frustrating experience.

But, there were times when I would walk into the store just to grab a thing or two, and each line with a real human cashier checking in items had five customers, each with a full cart. Meanwhile, just downstairs were a handful of self-checkouts with no one using them. So instead of waiting 15 or 20 minutes to pay for one or two things that would take maybe two minutes to complete, I would walk to an empty self-service checkout and try again. Over time, the problems I had had before became less and less to the point where I used them several times in a row with no problem. I don’t know if self-checkout technology has evolved or if I’ve finally figured it out, but now I don’t even bother to check the length of queues in the checkout lanes. I head straight for the self-checkout even with a basket full of groceries.

Why do I find it better

It is faster. Unlike most people, I don’t mind going to the store. Even big retailers like Walmart. That said, I don’t want to stay there longer than necessary, and I find that the self-checkouts help me get out of there quicker. Lines are usually shorter so I don’t wait 10, 15 or 20 minutes before I even get up on the treadmill to empty my cart, and the more I use them the better I get at ringing my items .

i am in control

I maybe I am a a little control freak. Using self-checkouts gives me full control not over how quickly my groceries are scanned, but also how they are bagged. Cashiers are trained to get things done as quickly as possible, and although they are also trained on which items to pack together, human error does occur, especially when they are in a rush because they have a long line of customers to walk through, which can occasionally result in a crushed loaf of bread or cracked eggs. At the self-checkout, I can make sure these items are packaged separately and my dairy, frozen, produce and meat items are all packaged with their counterparts together.

But, they take people’s jobs

The Walmart in Newburgh, where I do some of my shopping each week, recently increased the number of self-checkout lanes and, as you can imagine, that didn’t sit well with some people. A common reason that many cite is that it takes someone’s job away. Some arguments suggest that it’s not the case, but if we’re honest, in some stores it probably is. However, think about what we’ve seen increase since the start of the pandemic – ordering online and picking up in store. Items from these online orders do not magically float off the shelves and self-pack, it requires an employee to do so. That’s where the old cashiers come in. They still have a job, it’s just been, let’s say, “redirected.” If I was in their shoes and had the choice of staying in one place for eight hours a day to phone and pack groceries, or if I could walk around the store during that same time and fulfill online orders , I take the online ordering option without hesitation.

“They don’t pay me to work”

This is another common argument of the anti-self-checkout population. The idea that not only are they paying for the items they buy (which they’re probably also complaining about as being too expensive), but now we’re providing the company with free labor by being forced to scan and pack our own groceries.

If it took us an hour or two to do, I’d say they may have a valid point. But it maybe takes 10-15 minutes depending on how many items you have. It all comes down to the value you place on your time. I remember taking an introductory economics class at the University of Southern Indiana University and the professor said something in class one day that stuck with me for over 20 years later. He said that everything has an opportunity cost, and what he meant was that whatever we choose, it costs us an opportunity to do something else. In my opinion, the opportunity cost of waiting in line just to have an employee call me and collect my groceries when I could have done it in half the time at the self-checkout is a price I cannot don’t want to pay. Although it only lasts a few minutes each time, those minutes add up over time.

Change is inevitable (and not always a bad thing)

There was a time when you couldn’t pump your own gasoline. Instead, you stopped at a pump and waited for a gas station employee to pump it for you. If you’re under 50, this idea probably sounds crazy because we’ve gotten so used to doing it ourselves. While I imagine there was some backlash back in the day as gas stations started phasing out the attendant position, when was the last time you heard someone complaining about not have someone to pump his gas for him? I think the same will be said about payment lanes when my grandkids are grown up and shopping alone. The idea of ​​a store having a real person pick up your items and call them for you is going to sound crazy to them.

What I mean is that while it might be a hard pill for some to swallow now, automatic payment lanes aren’t going away. The day will come when this will be the only option we have (apart from in-store pick-up and home delivery). In fact, it looks like it will happen sooner rather than later as Walmart has begun experimenting with fully autonomous payment lanes in June 2020. I say bring him. I’m all for anything that will make my shopping experience faster and easier.

If you don’t agree, that’s fine. I’m not here to change your mind. If I did, great. If not, that’s great too. My goal here was to share a different perspective on something that from what I’ve seen the majority of people here don’t really like right now, and I appreciate you taking the time to read it.

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