retail news in context, analysis with attitude

The Boston Globe reports on the growth of self-checkout technology in the US, noting that “we’ve gotten used to pumping our own gas, printing our own airplane tickets, and answering our own questions on companies’ FAQ pages. Now, increasingly, we’re being urged to check ourselves out of stores ... Self-checkout machines have been around long enough for researchers to study how people react to them. Studies by the IHL Group, a Tennessee-based research firm, found that less than half, 41 percent, of people like self-service machines. On the other hand, a mere 8 percent of the 2,700 people surveyed online from 2005 through 2008 said they would not use the technology.”

According to the story, “Retailers say they like self-scanners because they’re cost-cutters that can speed shoppers through the checkout process and allow management to redeploy cashiers to jobs that can’t be done by a machine. Although some may think that the self-checkout system is more susceptible to theft, studies show otherwise. Theft deterrents on the self-checkout machines include integrated cameras, scales, security tags, and, in some cases, laser analysis of dimensions of the products, according to Greg Buzek, president of IHL Group.”
KC's View:
The conclusion seems to be that while a lot of people may not like or even resent the growth of self-scanning, a large percentage of shoppers see them as either an acceptable or necessary evil. The next big step will be to mobile checkout - allowing people to check themselves out as they shop, using either equipment provided by the store or their own smart phones to scan the products they are buying, avoiding checkout lanes altogether.