Small Retailers, You Gotta LOVE Self-Checkout at Wal-Mart and Costco

selfcheckout.jpgAccording to a September 2007 Eweek.com retail update, consumers spent $137 billion at self-checkout stands in 2006, mostly at superstore-type businesses (Wal-Mart, Costco, etc).

That’s an increase of 24 percent from the year before. At first glance, it seems like a success in the making.

One of the reasons they feel that self-checkout use is growing is familiarity, as noted in this quote:

The survey broke consumers down into geographic and income categories, finding that Southern consumers are slightly more inclined to embraced self-checkout, as are consumers earning more than $100,000 a year. The report theorizes that higher-income consumers travel more and are therefore exposed to self-ticketing kiosks at train stations and airports. In this case, the theory goes, familiarity breeds acceptance.

A lot of possible conclusions were left out of this theory. I think they simply chose the one that they wanted to hear.

I think what big retail won’t admit is the real reason why this growth is occurring:

Fewer and fewer people have the patience to deal with their often surly, undertrained checkout staff and their understaffed checkout area. As a result, they are willing to annoy themselves by using these machines just to get the heck out of the store more quickly.

Isn’t that a wonderful mindset for your customer to have as they leave your store? Positively makes you want to go back next week, doesn’t it?

I admit it – I use them. I use them because there is always a line – a line that is longer than it should be (5-6-7 shoppers or more in each line).

Thankfully, these sophisticated self-checkout machines are rather expensive, and probably more than any small retail or service business would spend on them. That’s a good thing, so you won’t be tempted to buy one.

Let Wal-Mart and Costco keep their self-checkouts. Your customers’ last thoughts should be “Could you believe how nice that store was?”, not “Man, I’m glad THAT’S over.”

One thought on “Small Retailers, You Gotta LOVE Self-Checkout at Wal-Mart and Costco”

  1. OMG! thank you, I am blogging about this tonight as the Costco I visit has only recently gotten them. It is ridiculous and you are right about the survey. I am a market research analyst and have done both qualitative and quantitative interviews among the same respondents and gotten divergent answers. The reason is a fundamental design and implementation flaw in surveys. People only use them because they are annoyed by the lack of real service and want to rush through the unpleasant experience. I refuse to use them as a former grocery and super store clerk, I also know what they do to jobs.

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