One move Aussie supermarkets won’t make

Australia’s two major supermarkets have spoken out after a British retailer decided to ditch self-serve check-outs.

British retailer Booths this week announced it will remove self-checkout facilities from all but two of its 28 grocery stores.

Now, Coles and Woolworths have given insight as to whether or not they will follow suit.

“We know some customers prefer to be served by a team member and that’s why there is always that option in all of our stores,” a Woolworths spokesperson told

“Millions of transactions are made using our self service check-outs every single day.

“The use of self service technology is commonplace from airports to railway stations, and customer feedback shows our self-serve check-outs are popular for their convenience and speed.”

The spokesperson explained the retailer employs more staff than ever before in order to cater to things such as rapid grocery delivery, to the traditional in-store experience, as well as other options like Direct to Boot.

“We know there’s many different opinions on the use of this technology and that’s why we have a range of ways for customers to complete their shop,” the spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, a Coles spokeperson said self-serve check-outs are a “great option” for customers as they deliver “convenience and efficiency”.

“Because of this they are the checkout of choice for more than two in three customers, and we continue to see these numbers increase,” the spokesperson said.

“Over the past year, we have seen greater customer satisfaction and uptake in our self-service options. Of course, if customers prefer to be served by a team member, someone will always be available in the service area to serve them.

“We have never been more committed to supporting Australians with employment opportunities, having recruited an additional 22,000 Team Members compared to five years ago.”

Across the pond in the US, CNN reports that Walmart, Costco and Wegmans are among those revising their self-checkout strategies.

“Our customers have told us this over time – that the self-scan machines that we’ve got in our stores … can be slow, they can be unreliable [and] they’re obviously impersonal,” Booths managing director Nigel Murray told the BBC.

The technology could also be “problematic” for customers, Mr Murray said, when it came to identifying and weighing specific fruit or vegetable varietals, or purchasing alcohol.

“Some customers don’t know one different apple versus another, for example,” he explained.

“There’s all sorts of fussing about with that and then the minute you put any alcohol in your basket somebody’s got to come and check that you’re of the right age.”

International retailers have found that self-checkout can also lead to higher merchandise losses from customer errors and intentional shoplifting – known as “shrink”.

Walmart removed self-checkout machines at some locations in New Mexico earlier this year, citing a need to offer more hands-on assistance from staff to customers.

Costco said it’s adding more staff in the areas after it found that non-members where sneaking in to use membership cards that didn’t belong to them at self-checkout.

– with The Sun

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