Remember the luxury of someone else bagging your groceries for you? It may be coming back.
I’ve always felt cheated by self check-out lines at the grocery store. It was like the store was forcing me to do work for them, for free. First it was attaching price tags on produce, then scanning the groceries and it was only a matter of time before grocery stores found a way to make me stock shelves for them. However, there are signs that self check-out could be going away.
Albertons is one of the first grocery stores to remove the offending self check-out lanes:
Albertsons LLC here said Thursday it plans to eliminate self-checkout systems from all stores by the end of August so it can focus more on customer service.
“We feel like having regular checkstands or express lanes where a person can actually have a conversation with a checker is a better approach,” Christine Wilcox, the company’s director of communications, explained.
This has MSN Money speculating that self check-out isn’t just an Albertsons problem, but a self check-out problem and if it’s not working for one store, it probably isn’t working for others.
This is not to say that we will be returning to the old style of check-out lanes. Dallas Morning News reports three new checkout developments that could be taking the place of self check-out:
Metro lanes check out customers three times faster than traditional express lanes, Huddleston said. The average wait time for customers who use metro lanes is 5 to 20 seconds, he said.
The Dallas area is in a state of hyper-competition in the grocery business as existing chains expand and new ones move in. That’s inspiring grocery chains to rethink everything they do, said Bob Young, managing director of the Weitzman Group, which manages many grocery-anchored centers.
“Customer service and the personal touch is a prevailing theme today,” Young said
Technology also is moving checkouts in new directions.
Kroger is experimenting in Cincinnati with an automated tunnel scanning technology in which shoppers put their items on a conveyor belt and the items are scanned while moving through a tunnel.
And Home Depot recently put 30,000 First Phones in its stores that allow employees to walk around and check out customers anywhere in the store.
I don’t know about you, but an automated scanning tunnel sounds a lot like baggage claim at the airport. I don’t recall ever desiring my food to be tunneled to me like baggage, but then, I never wanted to scan my own groceries either.