Blog: Dean BestChecking out the latest in self-service technology

Dean Best | 19 September 2011

The use of self-service technology can attract praise and criticism in almost equal measure from shoppers and, in recent weeks, it has attracted a fair amount of column inches.

Unmanned tills and the like are designed to make a shopping trip easier, as well as having, cynics would say, the added benefit to a retailer of reducing labour costs in-store.

However, self-checkouts, for one, can cause frustration among consumers for any number of reasons, from a product barcode not scanning correctly to the length of time it takes to find the code for a piece of fruit or veg in the on-screen list.

And, in recent weeks, a number of retailers across the pond have decided to scale back their use of self-service technology. Kroger and Albertsons are among those retailers and, last week, US regional retailer Big Y Foods joined them.

Big Y has decided to remove self-checkouts from its 61 outlets in Connecticut and Massachusetts after concluding that the technology "could neither improve nor replace the value of a friendly cashier". The retailer argued that the checkouts did not save consumers time; they made their shopping trips longer.

However, self-service technology does have its advocates both among shoppers and retailers. Consumers enjoy the speed and convenience of, for example, self-checkouts. And, while some retailers are questioning their use of certain concepts, other retailers are looking to spend more on self-service.

On Friday (16 September), US technology firm NCR said its self-checkout technology would be used by Tesco across Central and Eastern Europe. Tesco is now rolling out NCR's tills in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary.

"New technology has a big role to play in making shopping easier and more convenient for customers. The NCR compact self-checkouts give our customers a quick and easy option to pay which they really like," Tesco chief information officer Mike McNamara said.

It's clear, then, that, even just on self-checkouts, there is much debate over their effectiveness. Self-checkouts, of course, are not the only concept in use in-store. This month, just-food's management briefing focuses on self-service technology, looks at the concepts in use and discusses what the next developments could be.


BLOG

Ethical Trading Initiative's suspension of Fyffes rumbles on

Fyffes' suspension from The Ethical Trading Initiative, sparked over disquiet about conditions for the produce giant's workers in Honduras, continues after the UK-based organisation said the fruit and...

BLOG

Tesco-Booker deal gets green light as UK grocery landscape shifts

Here in the UK, we've had two significant pieces of M&A news in the grocery retail channel in the last 24 hours....

BLOG

Getting the basics right online

Failed launches cost grocery brands operating in the UK over GBP30m per year - but ironing out mistakes made in listing new products online could help improve marketeers' chances of success, according...

just-food homepage



Forgot your password?