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A new study suggests that while 61 percent of US households have used self check-out lanes at least once, there are mixed reactions to the efficacy of the technology - 52 percent of those who used the lanes said they were "okay," while 16 percent of them said they were "frustrating."

Seventy percent of those who have tried self check-out lanes plan to use them again, according to the study. Just 25 percent of those who have never tried the lanes plan to do so in the future. Demographic analysis of the study's results shows that usage of self check-out lanes is greatest among larger, higher income, younger, and more educated households.

The results of the study was reported this morning in the November issue of Facts, Figures and the Future, the e-newsletter produced by ACNielsen, the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), and Phil Lempert.

“For many shoppers, self-checkout is intimidating. Retailers must be proactive in demonstrating the units and pointing out the time savings for shoppers. Unfortunately, if one does experience a problem—not having a price ring up correctly, for example, or having to wait for a customer service person to correct a malfunction—odds are they will never return to the self check-out lane again. Consumers have zero tolerance for new technologies that don’t meet their needs.”

To read the rest of the November issue and for a free subscription, go to:

KC's View:
These results make sense, and the self check-out folks have to be pretty happy with the notion that almost two-thirds of consumers have at least tried it…and that smarter, richer, younger people are among those who like it best.

But they have some serious work to do in order to overcome the resistance that still exists in some quarters.

While there is a lot of acceptance of self check-out among some (including our nine-year-old daughter, who loves the one at Home Depot), we also keep hearing stories from both retailers and consumers who find the technology to be off-putting. Our biggest problem with it remains the fact that self check-out further depersonalizes the shopping experience, eliminating any contact with a living, breathing human being at the supermarket…and many stores that are implementing it aren’t doing anything to replace that contact.

The ACNielsen Homescan consumer panel has the advantage of being made up of people who are food-savvy, and therefore ahead of the curve in terms of behavior…and highly predictive of where the consumer is going. So these results are worth paying attention to.