Friday, August 24, 2012

Machine Checkout versus People Checkout

Self-checkout Machine
Self-checkout Machine
Just read an article about how Ikea is rethinking its self-checkout service; apparently, it causes major lines and frustration for customers. Personally, I've never liked self-checkout kiosks and would rather deal with a human when making purchases, even for a small number of items. It may be efficient for some (especially misanthropes), but I've had more negative experiences than positive ones. Plus, we really need jobs for people. Checkout clerks do more than just ring up purchases and bag them. They actually provide valuable marketing for their stores, if only they were seen that way by their employers. The human interaction, especially if clerks are trained to provide the service well, leads to customer loyalty and is a valuable community service. It gives elderly people much needed human contact on a regular basis and can make a huge difference in their quality of life. I've never thought replacing humans entirely or even mostly with these machines makes good business sense. Many people do like them, it's true, but it's not for everyone. In the case of Ikea, it seems hare-brained really when you think of how many of their products are large, heavy and unwieldy. Who wants to try to scan and maneuver these items through a self-checkout line? Fortunately, they're doing away with some of their self-checkout service. And others are doing the same thing, namely Albertsons grocery store. I think there's room for both kinds of services, so hopefully businesses will reach that balance and provide that choice.

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