Blog: When the old ways are best

Catherine Sleep | 16 September 2004

Austrian supermarket operator Billa launched its hi-tech store in Purkersdorf with much fanfare a few years back. But the people have protested!

Speaking shopping trolleys (carts), automated checkouts and a courteous cleaning robot that asked customers to make way: it all sounds very useful and state-of-the-art. But customers found the speaking trolleys irritating, while the robots bumped into them. Worst of all, the automated checkouts may have helped prevent queues there, but opportunistic thieving meant the company had to check bags at the door – so the queue just formed there instead.

I hope they don't throw the baby out with the bathwater though; some of the ideas are bound to have been positive for shoppers. We're just less good at mentioning or even noticing those, aren't we?

Robot wars


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