If you have been to a grocery store lately, then you have probably had to make this choice: regular cashier or self-checkout? For many shoppers, the choice often depends on which has a longer line, how many items they have in their basket, or even the assistant luring you to use the self-checkouts. Others, however, hate self-checkouts with an intense passion. Not only do certain shoppers refuse to use the machines, but also they do not want self-checkouts to exist at all.
While there is nothing wrong with preferring to engage with a human cashier, a fair number of shoppers enjoy the benefits self-checkout machines have to offer. So let us break down the reasons why some people are eager to advance with technology and why others are still hesitant.
Customers and Cashier vs. Customers and Machine:
So what is driving the debate? One of the biggest reasons why shoppers turn away from using self-checkouts is the loss of social interaction with their cashier. Most shoppers argue that in an increasingly technological world we should simply choose to keep humans over robots. Why would anybody want to do a job for free when a company could pay an employee to do it for them?
However, most cashiers’ rebuttal that the social interaction is rather limited anyway, so what do cashiers think? A study  issued to analyze the social interaction between cashiers and customers showed that the communication was simply limited to questions like “How are you today? Do you have a point’s card? How many bags would you like? This is your total. Here is your receipt. Have a great day.” A simple requirement by most grocery companies that the cashiers have to ask, and the conversation often never went any further than the customer simply answering yes or no to those questions. Ultimately, many cashiers would not qualify this as deep social interaction.
So, in the end, what is so wrong about simply checking out your own items? The self-checkout becomes much quicker due to the number of machines that are available with prompts for the customer to read the questions that cashiers are required to say when the customer already knows their answer. The delay occurs due to the amount of mandatory questions and is what halts the process of going quicker – especially if you only have one item and the cashier is required to ask you numerous questions.
Advance or Be Left Behind?
We, as consumers, often neglect that change is simply inevitable. However, capitalism gives us the freedom to choose anyways. For the most part, shoppers have welcomed self-checkouts. They appreciate the added convenience, as well as the ability to scan and bag their groceries how they please. As no one is going to handle your items with the best care than you.
For the continuous self-checkout haters who use the machines for the first time often give up easily and argue that the machines are too difficult to use. However, there will still always be an attendant monitoring the self-checkouts and it is still their job to help and instruct. With experience, the transaction becomes extremely quick and easy.
Moreover, the grocery stores have not thrown aside those who still prefer regular checkouts. The vast majority of retail stores still have cashiers available to assist customers with the checkout of their purchases at regular tils.
Taking Away Jobs?
Shoppers are simply trying to protect the jobs of cashiers by refusing to use the self-checkouts. The argument is not without merit: allowing drivers to fill up their own tanks did remove the need for an attendant. Nevertheless, it also brought down prices and increased customer satisfaction.
Shoppers continue to argue that by companies implementing six new self-checkout machines, in turn, take away six cashier jobs – well, not really. Often time six cashier tils are not even open at once, so it is just increasing the amount of readily available check out options and thus decreasing the time you spend waiting in line.
Due to the rise of self-checkouts have also been the rise of cashiers promoted to supervisor positions, which equal a pay raise to learn how to manage the self-checkout area and fix them when they are broken. While their pre-existing job results in an additional person getting hired to take over their job as a regular cashier.
In the end, the biggest question mark in the future of self-service is not government policy or even technological innovation, but consumer preference. It is consumers who decide which products and services become profitable and which fail. Ultimately, due to this, some grocery store locations do end up removing their self-checkouts while others continue to put more into stores. Nonetheless, the choice is still yours, for now.
It is important to acknowledge how to shop safely during the coronavirus pandemic. Consider practicing social distancing by using self-checkout machines to reduce contact with a cashier. Although using the self-checkout requires you to touch surfaces other customers are also touching, the most important detail to remember is to wash your hands when you're done, and review your local grocery store's COVID-19 strategic safety plan.
 De Abgeli, A. (2001, 07 09). Personifying the e-market: A framework for social agents. Retrieved from https://books.google.ca/books?hl=en&lr=&id=LoR_qZGX8IgC&oi=fnd&pg=PA198&dq=social+interaction+with+cashier&ots=PfMC3aTgIM&sig=xUFSkXCGpIgsCFwaGqsgre9imw0#v=onepage&q=social%20interaction%20with%20cashier&f=false
 Griffith-Greene, M. (2016, 01 28). Who really benefits from the technology? Retrieved from https://www.cbc.ca/news/business/marketplace-are-you-being-served-1.3422736
 Curtis, T. (2019, 05 03). In praise of self-checkouts. Retrieved from https://fee.org/articles/in-praise-of-self-checkouts/