Shopping checkouts and perception

The one reason I always choose self-checkout regardless of how many groceries I have is because I use my own bags to carry all the groceries. When I’m at a self-checkout I can take my time packing my bags the way I think is best. I often ride my bike so if I go over in my backpack I pick the easiest items to carry while riding. These are all things I can consider and make fit my needs while going through checkout. Such consideration is typically lost with employees.

I will say that often times self-checkouts don’t like it when you put your stuff on the scale. It forces you to check out all your groceries then rebag them all. At best the machine freaks out and calls for an assistant, then I can have them override the machine to allow my bags on the scale.

I also don’t like being rushed. Grocery stores are built to cycle people in and out as fast as possible. I don’t mind taking the extra 5 minutes to make sure I’m not wasting bags, crushing bread, etc.

*when I say bags I mean backpack and maybe one or two traditional bags.

Great post Matt… glad to see you onboard finally! keep them coming

as far as checkouts, the only part about the experience that ever bugs me is when I have wait on an employee to come over and clear me for buying a bottle of wine or a beer. How about a web cam and a call center to clear you while you’re still in front of the machine - or even an ID reader.

I’m still waiting for this too - the word at IBM was that everybody wanted it, they were just waiting til the RFID costs hit some magic tiny number. They did invent the bar code in the first place

This is a great thread.
Everything in a supermarket has been strategically placed for the customer to purchase something they did not plan on buying or get them to purchase the pricier item, and I think design comes later. From why certain items are the bottom, top shelf, to why others are in the back or the front. I don’t usually mind waiting in line, I understand that if there is a lot of people then there is nothing that I can do about it except leave, but when the cashier starts chit chatting with the customers now that’s what is irritating to me.
I’m not a fan of the self service check out machine, but if they can get me out of there faster and without having to wait in line, then fine. The grocery store in my neighborhood have decent ones, other than that the fact that it never recognizes my discount number initially, and I have to enter it 2 or 3 times to finally recognize it. And if I have zero patience to wait in line (which happens often) I’ll leave my items and leave the store.

And I agree that one’s perception is their reality, whether the perception is the truth or not is irrelevant

The self check outs are horrid… in the sense that they are horribly slow… The majority of users aren’t me and therefore SLOW!!!

Plus using cash on those machines should be forbidden. There should be ONE pay pass pad and that is all.
I literally see people spending more time paying with change or trying to find where they should swipe there debit then it actually takes them to bag there goods… and god forbid a vegetable without a code … can’t be found on the touch screen… UGH

Listening to a podcast about fructose and it’s health impacts (here if you are interested) and the author had an interesting insight:

When you shop for food at a supermarket, shop the periphery- all the healthy food tends to be on the outer, all the unhealthy food on the inner. The drivers are ‘healthy’ staples (bread, milk etc.) to get you to pass by all the ‘unhealthy’ (i.e. processed sugar filled food).

Most supermarkets I think of are set up with at least the fruit and vegetables on the side as you enter, the bread, fish and meat at the back edges, the dairy at the far edge. The frozen section doesn’t support this theory if it is stacked from behind, but it does in older supermarkets when they had open chest freezers in the middle of the store.

sorry to bump old topic

If you played the Tetris theme tune when the customer was using the checkout machine then they would pack all their shopping really well, use less bags, and complete the overall process faster.

Like this but edible.

I’ve stumbled across a couple articles stating that some grocery stores are considering getting rid of them. Most are reviewing the value of the self checkout.

I read that as well. Apparently human check out lines run faster… I wonder what the psychological/irrational answer will be. Will people prefer to interact with a human, or not talk to anyone? I know for myself, if I’m completely hones, sometimes I choose self checkout just so I don’t have to talk to anyone, as silly as I feel writing that.

Trained cashiers are absolutely faster, and the systems used in self checkout are purposely slowed down to ensure the customer properly scans and weighs each item. That doesn’t include all of the exceptions or errors that are common with self checkout (Scanning ID for alcohol, item not found, item not registering properly on scale, etc). That doesn’t mean the line at the cashier based lanes won’t be longer, or that the lady in front of you might not have 5x the items.

The main motivation for self checkout is still the fact that people typically feel like it takes less time because they’re spending more time involved in the process, rather than waiting.

I thought automated checkout at grocery stores were doomed to fail. However, absolutism is always wrong. I have now experienced some people, always youngsters, that prefer, even like them. And a young female I know got a job as a cashier after she realized she enjoyed womanning the self checkout at family grocery trips.

These self checkouts have two main flaws: too high a learning curve with no time to learn, and how they fail. The one-at-a-time menu search, weigh, and enter or scan is fraught with failure, and any electro, mechanical or software system malfunction causes huge failure. One time I used it the receipt tape printer was so jammed everything shut down, junior manager came with a key and cleared a huge mess of crumpled receipt tape and then the system was busy for minutes while it had to reprint all the previous jammed receipts in memory; no override feature or otherwise unknown to the junior manager.

I vaguely remember similar debate when self service and pay-at gas pumps were introduced. However, these succeeded in part due to simple learning curve and minimal impact when something in the system fails - there’s always an underemployed person to address situation.

Sometimes I feel like not talking to humans too, but a human checkout line doesn’t mean that I have to talk to the cashier. When I don’t want to, I don’t. All I have to do is make a mean face :slight_smile:
For me I feel like I just don’t want to use them, and if I have to go through the hassel of locating the number code of the vegetable/fruits, typing in my saving card twice because somehow after the first time it doesn’t recognize it, then bagging my own groceries, then I just don’t want to do it. I rather go with the cashier (if there is no long lines). I already don’t like to do grocery to begin with and using the machines add to it.

It’s a bit like the restaurant The Melting Pot for me. I went there for the first time a couple weeks ago and thought the food and the concept was good, but not for me. I cook regularly so if I’m going to a restaurant I don’t want to have to do extra work to cook my food, and follow instructions, and on top of that WAIT a couple minutes for the food to cook before putting the tiny piece of food in your mouth.

To conclude grocery stores should not get rid of them, they should keep them to provide options to customers or make them “10 or less items” check out lanes. And in the meantime focus on improving the design and finding a subtle/convenient/easy way to educate their customers on how to use it.

I strongly agree with that statement

Here is my proposal for…CHECKOUTS

Shopping Trolley: GoFa

Checkout is a main bottleneck at Supermarket :
Scanning of merchandises,
Billing & Payment,
Segregating & Packing these merchandises in the shopping bags.

With GoFa, this work will get distributed between User & Staff.

The Basket mounted on GoFa is capable of reading any merchandise when it is placed inside or taken out of GoFa.
It is equipped with RFID, NFC or similar technology. The edges of the basket will interact with each other & tagged merchandise.
Then they pass its info to LED display. (Feedback to User)

The merchandises are divided into groups which can be packed together. The display shelf of these groups & their shopping bags will have a same colour indication. (for example, PINK color stand & bags are for Household Cleaning +Personal care Items
BLUE for Refrigerator Items , ORANGE for Fragile items: bakery, eggs etc )

User can collect the shopping bag from the display shelf, add merchandise to GoFa , can view the cost details at LED display of GoFa.

At checkout, Staff will connect GoFa to the system. Take payment & tagged merchandises will get released.

Scenario Image

In your scenario, the need for an intelligent shopping cart isn’t needed.

You are assuming that each item in the store carries an RFID tag, so that it is scanned when it goes into the cart - but now you’ve created a cart that has lots of technology baked into it, and if you’ve ever been to a store that chains their carts up, you’d understand why they are frequently stolen, hit by cars in the parking lot, and more importantly - never in one place long enough to charge all of the equipment you’ve added to it.

If each item already had a RFID tag, theres no reason for smarts to be in the cart/trolley, you’d just need fixed antennas at the checkout lane that could read each item - though this is also a challenge in itself. What if the RFID antenna misses an item, or accidentally grabs an item that someone else didn’t want to take but left it somewhere near the end of the store.

In the ideal world, you wouldn’t need a checkout at all, you could just walk through the “magic portal”, have everything get scanned, and then tender your money and leave.

The technology is already there, but it’s going to still be a while before tagging every item with an RFID tag is feasible, and more importantly - creating a system that audits what is in the cart so that people don’t throw items into the basket and then walk out of the store without paying.

Remember that grocery stores run a business where profits are very low, so adding the cost of a few cents to every product for an RFID tag still isn’t feasible, and technology advancements (like self checkouts, personal shopping scanners, or smart carts) need to be able to prove their ROI for them to even be considered.

The most efficient system is to order your groceries online and you come to a drive thru and they are loaded into your vehicle. (This is done for seniors usually. Also I’ve seen delivery offered as well at certain niche food marts.)
I think it would work the only drawback is you don’t have the impulse buy. Not sure on the amount of things that are impulse bought at a grocery store but I think the cut in costs would make up for these impulse buys. PLUS people could create the list online weekly and store info creating the wonderful social app. I WIN :slight_smile:

I for one create my list and rarely purchase something merely on impulse. I would probably even pay a small fee to save myself the wasted time spent pushing through people and waiting in line ups.

You could create such an efficient store it would be amazing. You would not need to hire a single cashier. You’d only need customer service and employees to ‘shop’ the warehouse for you. Not to mention the amount of land used would drop drastically.

There are few things that I wanted to address while proposing the concept.
Mainly reducing time spend at Checkout. Otherwise everything else in this system looks smooth.
So distribution of work (checkout work) should happen comfortably while you are shopping.

I am assuming here a simple technology which able to detect the item when placed in the trolley cage.
I have just referred it to RFID or NFC or similar technology.
It could be something that you can attach to the trolley & can be removable before exit.

Online shopping is growing up & there are multiple advantages associated with it.
It will not completely replace the existing system.

That part was understood, but my point was that your assumption is that the technology is passive, which requires an RFID tag on every item in the store.

Since that’s part of the assumption, theres no need to scan as you pack (which is what current self-shopping assistants like this Motorola's handheld MC17 computer awarded thrice - Core77 do) those RFID tags could all be read instantly as you are leaving the store.

RFID is a fairly “dumb” technology, in that an antenna will read anything it is designed to point at, but it can read hundreds of tags instantly, which would still lend itself to having the equipment only in a few spots (checkout area) rather then per cart.

Kinect-powered shopping cart ???

Kinect-powered shopping cart ???

It wouldn’t leave much room for Junior in the jump seat would it. And if screaming rug-rats careening around the store with miniature “Shopper in Training” carts weren’t enough, now we are to be subjected to dozens of talking carts around us as we try shop? I usually consider myself lucky if I get a cart that runs in a straight line…