The Future. Self-checkout kiosks haven’t turned out to be the time-and-cost-saving wonder they were hailed to be, reflecting the larger disinvestment in the shopping experience. The problem is, the technology exists between traditional customer service and future tech-powered optimization. So, the future of retail may be just walking out of the store with items à la Amazon Go or returning to an era when human interaction is both expected and welcome.
Human help, please
After a decade or so of self-checkout kiosks, customers miss cashiers. So, some companies are switching back to that tried and true strategy: hiring more human workers.
- Walmart has removed kiosks entirely from some stores and redesigned the self-checkout areas in others to allow for more help from clerks.
- Costco is putting more employees near its self-checkouts to help with customer issues.
- ShopRite is re-hiring employees after testing a self-checkout-only model. Why? Customers didn’t like it.
While it was initially billed as a way to make shopping more convenient (and a way to save money on labor), the self-checkout system has created constant headaches for customers who contend with accidentally double-scanning items or wrestle with where to put scanned items. And that’s when the kiosks work.
But, The Atlantic also argues the attitude behind kiosks is a microcosm for many of the issues in retail, including understaffing, messy shelves, and increased theft.
Simply put, stores need employees for the foreseeable future.