The Self-Checkout: Lots of Swiping, No Stealing

The Self-Checkout: Lots of Swiping, No Stealing

” 'Most of the systems are similar and use a recorded voice and visual cues on a touch-screen monitor to guide shoppers through the process. At the bagging end, most use scales that can detect attempts to steal unscanned merchandise.

Behind the scenes, each self-checkout station works with the supermarket's network servers, tallying the items and feeding the sales information into accounting and inventory databases just as if it were a regular checkout lane with a cashier….

It is no surprise, then, that the largest supermarket chains, including Kroger, Albertson's, Meijer, Giant and A&P, have embraced the technology. And it is now spreading to other retail outlets, including convenience stores, drugstores and larger stores like Kmart, B. J.'s Wholesale Club and The Home Depot.' [NY Times: Technology]

Initally I didn't like the idea – have me do your job but don't give me any discount. I am finding, though, that ~ for the most part ~ it is quicker to use the self-checkout line at our local Kroger. Unless of course I get stuck behind technophobic grandma who doesn't know how to use a touchscreen.” [Steven's Weblog]

Our local K-Mart installed several of these a few months ago, and I l-o-v-e them. I haven't gone through a manned checkout lane once since they were installed, and I'm much more inclined to run to the store and grab something because it does feel “faster” to me. I know I can be in and out in a snap. Even the actual purchasing of items has become interactive!

I do notice a definite generation gap with these things, though. I haven't seen anyone over the age 50 use one, even when there are long lines for the manned checkout lanes. I see them watch me as I fly past, scan, and breeze out the door. It's a different kind of digital divide.

Some libraries have moved towards self checkout, too. My home library submitted a grant for one last year, but unfortunately they didn't get it. At this point, the machines are too expensive for the majority of public libraries. Once prices drop, though, we should see wider adoption.  [The Shifted Librarian]

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