Self service popularity has taken a major role in airports kiosks, movie theaters, and even libraries, but in supermarket technology interest seems to ebb and flow - depending on the customer. There are always going to be some customers who want the traditional checkout person while other consumers prefer to do it themselves.
Albertsons, a Boise, Idaho based supermarket chain is removing their self checkout lanes; the biggest complaint - slow lanes because someone is having trouble with their self checkout. The supermarket, in the interest of providing the best customer experience, therefore is going to revert to staff checkout lanes with more lanes open during peak shopping times. The spokesperson for Albertsons, Christine Wilcox stated;
"Our customers are our highest priority and we want to provide them with an excellent experience from the time they park their car to when they leave."
Supermarkets who are more concerned with customer experience contend that customers miss that one on one interaction with a cashier as they check out. Stella Overton, a Florida resident who often shops at Albertsons stated;
"I like that the cashier says hello to me, and if I have a problem with the price of a product, I just stop her, and we check it out. When I tried to do the self-checkout, I'm not that good on the computer, I don't always scan the product right, and I get confused trying to get my change. I have to bag the groceries myself, and so I rather would use a live person."
The more customer service oriented formats include the personal touch with technology in order to speed up the process to help customers get out quicker and still cater to the individual that very well may set one store apart from another. Some supermarkets are considering European style checkouts where an organized format queues customers from one main line into multiple staffed express lanes. Called Metro Lanes, Whole Food Stores is trying it in some of their establishments. Customers move through the lines much quicker and still have a personal connection with a staff member, if even for just a few moments.
Kroger Foods is trying a new advanced system, hoping to improve customer experience and at the same time eliminate loss due to theft or misringing the product. The machine resembles an airport luggage conveyor belt, and scans the items as they move through a tunnel. An employee mans the machine, and the groceries are bagged by an attendant which still provides the customer with a full service experience.
Let's face it; everyone goes to the supermarket, and we all want to get there, do our shopping, and get out as quickly as possible. Why not have a good customer experience too?
Photo: thetalesend/Flickr (Creative Commons)