A noble move by the organisation.
A supermarket chain in the United Kingdom is DITCHING its self-service checkouts in a bid to improve customer experience, in the first major pushback we have witnessed against this agenda.
Self-checkouts were first introduced more than 10 years ago in major supermarkets across the world, but upmarket retailer Booths says it will replace the checkouts from all but two of its supermarkets (likely to examine those two for future performance as case studies).
Booths has branches in Yorkshire, Cumbria, Lancashire and Cheshire — all in England’s north.
It comes after a recent survey showed that many shoppers find self-service checkouts too troublesome to use, opting to head over to a manned checkout (which leads to long queues and disgruntled customers).
Booths Managing Director, Nigel Murray, told reporters the chain “is not a great fan of self-checkouts”.
”We pride ourselves on great customer service and you can’t do that through a robot.”
Murray also revealed that the technology can be ”problematic” and can cause customers to have to wait longer, for example, when workers need to check ID for alcohol or when weighing an item.
Bravo, Mr. Murray!
A rare case of common sense leadership that puts the people first.
The UK has been of great attention recently in the fight back against cashless societies and self-serve checkouts, with British personality Piers Corbyn recently letting Aldi know his dismay in a classic video:
Some Walmart and Costco stores in the US are also steering away from self-serve technology.
Let’s hope more stories like this begin to emerge, and more UK shoppers switch to the chain exclusively.
Here in Australia, however, we remain the backwards continent of the world, with supermarket ‘experts’ and the larger industry pushing forward in the complete opposite direction.
In gold old Prison Australia, we are full steam ahead with the self-serve agenda and beyond.
Woolworths have used their checkouts as not only a way to reduce ‘human costs’ (staff), but also as a way to introduce a biometric surveillance network for ‘shoplifting security’.
Over at Coles, the chain is pushing ahead with new ‘hybrid’ self-serve checkouts where customers will use an unmanned conveyor belt as the ‘alternative’ option to the current ones.
And these major chains have no intent of following the moves of an organisation like Booths.
Gary Mortimer, a Professor of Marketing and Consumer Behaviour at QUT Business School, told reporters he doesn’t believe Australia’s major supermarkets would follow Booths’ lead.
“There’s certainly some smaller grocers, in South Australia particularly, that don’t use self-service registers,” he said.
He continued: “But when you are dealing with fast-moving consumable goods, when you’re dealing with thousands of customers every day, and sometimes these types of technologies do expedite that service process.”
Yes, a typical dulled-down Australian ‘expert’ response, highlighting what is wrong here at home. In fact, our domestic surveys actually show portions of the Australian public support this technological push.
This is despite all of the problems self-service checkouts cause on a daily basis.
But here’s where we get a little deeper down the rabbit hole:
Self-serve checkouts will indeed be removed in the future, however.
But not for the reasons that Booths has done so.
No, they will be removed here in Australia in favour of something much more dystopian.
The vision for the future is ‘checkout free’ supermarkets that will use facial recognition and digital identity to introduce a ‘seamless’ process for shoppers where all items are automatically calculated and paid for.
Under this system, shoppers walking into a store would scan their phone on a train-station-like turnstile, connecting their presence in the store (as well as fellow shoppers) with their profile.
Shortly after, artificial intelligence, sensors and data are used to detect what customers pick up and put in their bags, before being charged to their accounts on exit from the store.
Amazon Go was the first service to do this, and its the exact Orwellian ‘shopping experience’ that stores want to transition Australia towards over the next decade.
But fear not, as there still is time to push back, and this example from the UK is a shining highlight of what can be done when people let their voices be heard in the consumer marketplace.
Well done to those across the pond.
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