Thu. May 30th, 2024
  • Self-checkout usage represented 30% of transactions in 2021, almost double from 2018, according to a survey of retailers by industry group FMI.
  • However, customers complain about clunky technology and error codes, there are challenges with theft and workers monitor machines, all of which are causing some retailers to limit or remove them.
  • Despite these issues, self-checkout isn’t expected to disappear due to labour shortages.
  • Advances in technology have led to reduced cashier jobs, and the trend looks set to continue.

Retailers are grappling with the pros and cons of self-checkout technology, especially as they navigate the busy holiday season. While these systems promised quick and easy transactions, reduced labour costs, and streamlined operations, they have been met with some resistance. Customers have found the technology confusing and frequently throwing up error codes. There are also issues with theft and a need to continually monitor both the machines and human customers.

Contrastingly, there are still many who enjoy the self-checkout experience, finding it faster and more convenient. For individuals with mobility issues, the advent of ‘scan and go’ technology has made the shopping experience easier. Some stores, to tackle problems with self-checkout, are deploying artificial intelligence technology that flags errors and prompts customers to correct them themselves. Advanced technologies like Amazon’s ‘just walkout technology’ and Uniqlo’s radio-frequency identification (RFID) chips in price tags are further enhancing the self-checkout process.

While self-checkout technology is not expected to disappear, especially in the face of labour shortages, the future will likely involve a balancing act, incorporating both traditional and automated checkout methods. The Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that technological innovations like self-checkout and online shopping have significantly reduced the number of cashier jobs, from 1.4 million in 2019 to 1.2 million currently, with further declines expected over the next decade.

Overall, the self-checkout technology, its benefits, and drawbacks present a complex puzzle for retailers as they strive to ensure a smooth shopping experience while keeping costs down and dealing with labour shortages.

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