Jay P

self-service checkout machines

24 posts in this topic

Over the past year or two, the grocery stores I shop at have had self-service checkout machines.

These make it very easy to buy groceries quickly. No more waiting in long lines for people who have loads of stuff to buy, or decide they want to write a check at the last minute. All I have to do now is grab a hand-basket, quickly fill it up and then go use the machine to check out.

A side-benefit is that since shopping is so fast, it makes sense to go and buy only a few things; no need to buy a large quantity at once. That means I typically have fresher fruit and vegetables.

Other side benefits.....

1. There are no supermarket tabloids in the self-serve lines; even if there were, I wouldn't notice them much, since I'm busy checking out. So, I don't see any of that insipid malevolent junk.

2. Typically the "clueless" people don't go into the self-serve line. (For instance, people who are afraid of the machine or can't figure out how to use it. The kind of people who typically slow down the other lines.)

3. It makes shopping a more mentally active process. One has to remember code numbers for things that don't have bar codes, and then there are actions involved in the checkout process. I like this better than standing there while a cashier does it all for me.

4. The machines are fun to use.

Most of all, they just make shopping so much faster. So here's a big "thanks" to the people who invented and implemented these machines.

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These sound good, and may even reduce grocery costs if they are cheaper than labour at minimum wage. I've never seen them before, so how do they prevent thieves from walking right out of the store? Could a store be run entirely without cashiers in this fashion?

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Here is my take on self-checkout, which I loath..

As long as products have bar codes that must be located before they can be scanned, then it doesn't make sense to make the customer scan their own products.

The checkout person is much faster because they know where the barcode is located on the the eggs, milk etc... Whereas for me it is a waste of my time that I could spend on doing soemthing like enjoying life.

I hate self-checkout because I find it very degrading to be put into the position of a minimum wage highschooler to buy food. Why did I go to college and spend thousands of dollars and hours learning to use my brain, if when I go to spend my money I end up doing it all myself?

Sorry to sound like an elitist jerk, but we all derserve a rich life filled with labor savings technology; not reduced to car pooling in diamond lanes, communal buses, pumping gas, checking your own oil, and checking your own groceries. Screw Albertson's and Wal-mart. I deserve better!

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Typically when I see these, and I've been using them since about 2000 when they first started putting them in at various stores, the machines will be placed in groups of four, two to a side. There will still be a single cashier with a register at the front center to both "supervise" and help the customers if they have problems with their self-service machines. Being that I first started noticing these things around the turn of the century, I thought they were more or less a novelty to say, "Hey, welcome to the 21st century!", but they are actually pretty usefull, quicker, and have the all important coolness factor.

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Yes, I wouldn't be surprised if they end up reducing grocery costs, since they do not require as many cashiers.

As far as preventing somebody from just walking out, at the stores I shop at, there is typically a bank of 4 or more machines that are watched over by a single cashier. The cashier is there in case something goes wrong - somebody forgets a number, or the machine detects a possible problem, like somebody possibly not scanning an item and putting it into the bag. So they aren't unattended, but in their normal use, the cashier doesn't need to get involved.

And the machines are pretty sophisticated too. There is a scale of course to weigh what you're buying, but also a scale to weigh the bag you're packing. So if you put something in the latter, and it didn't weigh what the machine thought it should, you could not proceed until the cashier saw that all was OK. There also seem to be some sort of video sensors that don't like it if they detect you doing something unusual, but I don't know how they work.

I'm sure the technology will be constantly improved to prevent theft and to make the machines easier to use.

These automatic machines are an application of computer technology that makes my life noticeably better.

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Self-checkouts are pretty cool.

I <3 them.

For those of you who don't know, <3 is a heart.

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I think the self-check-out lanes are a great idea.

First, I can scan my stuff quicker than most people at any of the stores.

Second, it brings down the total cost of prices which in turn makes my life better. I have more money to spend on other values.

Lastly, the lines are always empty in my local Wal-Mart, which means I am in and out as quickly as possible. Again, this enhances my life because my time can be spent in other areas.

Economics is defined in many ways, but I use a definition I once read (I can't remember where), conservation of ones resources. This does not just mean your money, but your whole life. Anytime I can get something of the same or like quality for less effort, it allows me to use that effort in another area. This is one science that a lot of people under-value in their own life.

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Once RFID tags become cheap enough to put on every single item in the store, you'll be able to walk through the checkout aisle and have the computer tally up every item in real-time, without having to remove it from the cart. Pretty much every checkout lane will become "self service" in a way. The current cashiers will become a lot more like cashiers in a cafeteria - their sole job will be the take your money and make sure you don't walk out without paying.

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I think the self-check-out lanes are a great idea.

First, I can scan my stuff quicker than most people at any of the stores.

Second, it brings down the total cost of prices which in turn makes my life better.  I have more money to spend on other values.

Lastly, the lines are always empty in my local Wal-Mart, which means I am in and out as quickly as possible.  Again, this enhances my life because my time can be spent in other areas. 

Economics is defined in many ways, but I use a definition I once read (I can't remember where), conservation of ones resources.  This does not just mean your money, but your whole life.  Anytime I can get something of the same or like quality for less effort, it allows me to use that effort in another area.  This is one science that a lot of people under-value in their own life.

You probably think that Jim Taggarts idea to remove diner cars was a great example of conservation of resources. Maybe we should require fast food customers to clean the bathrooms. Then this savings could be passed on to the customer, instead of being wasted on hiring a person to clean the toilets. Heck I bet you can clean toilets faster than most people.

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Getting your food at a fast food restaurant is not dependent on having clean toilets in the back rooms, but going through the cash register or self-payment counter is necessary when buying groceries. A better fast food analogy would look like this: Self serve ketchup dispensers for fries, instead of having someone at the counter put ketchup on for you.

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Ken,

Yes, I can clean toilets faster and better than most. But, in my business I pay someone to clean the toilets at my office, because my time is better spent on items that I get paid for.

I do not think that taking away the dining cars was a good idea, but they do have to be profitable.

For your information I pay to have someone clean my car, my pool, my house, change my oil and many other items. I have a desert landscape which I take care of myself, it is not hard to kick a rock back into place. But, I pay to have someone take care of items which in that time frame I could make more money and become more proficient at my skill.

I work close to 60 hours a week and sometimes more. When I have time off I do not want to waste it cleaning a house When I can be enjoying other items of my life. If I did not have the money to expend on this item I would chose differently. I have a 3600 square foot home that would take me hours to clean, or I can pay an efficient cleaning service to do it while I am working and making more money.

The items that one chooses to use their resources on is part of their values and can constantly change within their limited resources. When I was in college I shared a disgusting apartment with a friend. When we first moved in, it was not even clean. We cleaned it ourselves and the owner reduced the first months rent. Today I would not clean nor stay in that apartment. My resources are not as limited as they were then, and I enjoy more expensive luxuries now. But, I am still always looking to be economical with my resources.

Finally, I think that what we see in the self-check-out lines is a step in furthering ones own economic resources. It might not be the final step yet, but they are working toward it. And, anyone that is to much of a pompous ass to use them, so be it, and go to the stores or lanes that do not use them.

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Speaking here as moderator I want to caution our members to deal with the ideas and not with the person. I underscored this privately to both Ken and Ray. I will let their immediately preceding posts stand but will not tolerate any further personal remarks. I completely understand the passion with which we can hold our ideas, but let's keep the discussion on the ideas and not on the people who voice them.

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On the flip side of the equation, the grocery store I used to frequent did not have self-check out lanes. They had additional clerks who unloaded the basket for you instead. Talk about convenience.

I think both services are great. Just like I think both full service and self-service at the gas station are great. It is in such a manner that producers are giving us the choice to decide how we best want to spend our time and effort. And that is certainly "The Good"

B)

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On the flip side of the equation, the grocery store I used to frequent did not have self-check out lanes.  They had additional clerks who unloaded the basket for you instead.  Talk about convenience.

I think both services are great.  Just like I think both full service and self-service at the gas station are great.  It is in such a manner that producers are giving us the choice to decide how we best want to spend our time and effort.  And that is certainly "The Good"

B)

That's a really good point. I do most of my grocery shopping at a particular store, Bristol Farms, because of the high quality of the food and the service I get. And part of that service consists of them unloading and packaging my order just as they know I like. I am on a first name basis with many of the employees, and we each know a bit about what the other's life. I pay extra for the food quality and the service, but it is worth it to me. I fully understand, however, why others may choose to save every penny when they shop. It is really wonderful that we live in a world where there are so many options about things like this.

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Once RFID tags become cheap enough to put on every single item in the store, you'll be able to walk through the checkout aisle and have the computer tally up every item in real-time, without having to remove it from the cart. Pretty much every checkout lane will become "self service" in a way. The current cashiers will become a lot more like cashiers in a cafeteria - their sole job will be the take your money and make sure you don't walk out without paying.

Have you seen the new PayPass they have in the Chicago area for the toll roads? I'd like to see these tags combined with the security detectors they have on the doors of the store: your "Kroger Plus Card" acts as an automatic debit card on an account you set up. After all, if they can detect your groceries using these RFID tags, why not the card itself?

If you try to walk out the door without a payment card or tag or whatever, the system beeps and you have to go pay the regular way. Anyone that just wants to grab a few items and has a card can just LEAVE.

I think that would be really cool.

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I'd like to see these tags combined with the security detectors they have on the doors of the store: your "Kroger Plus Card" acts as an automatic debit card on an account you set up.  After all, if they can detect your groceries using these RFID tags, why not the card itself?
It's in the works. The cost of RFID tags needs to drop by, I think, a factor of 10, and then it will be economically feasible to have insta-checkout. I'm predicting that they first implement this for the checkout line. Loose produce will be the main problem; and there is non-negligible customer resistance to pre-packaged zucchini bundles, where you can't tell how rotten the undersides are.

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It's in the works. The cost of RFID tags needs to drop by, I think, a factor of 10, and then it will be economically feasible to have insta-checkout. I'm predicting that they first implement this for the checkout line. Loose produce will be the main problem; and there is non-negligible customer resistance to pre-packaged zucchini bundles, where you can't tell how rotten the undersides are.

It would probably be best for convenience stores where they don't sell produce and paying cashiers is a MAJOR expense.

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Have you seen the new PayPass they have in the Chicago area for the toll roads?  I'd like to see these tags combined with the security detectors they have on the doors of the store: your "Kroger Plus Card" acts as an automatic debit card on an account you set up.  After all, if they can detect your groceries using these RFID tags, why not the card itself?

If you try to walk out the door without a payment card or tag or whatever, the system beeps and you have to go pay the regular way.  Anyone that just wants to grab a few items and has a card can just LEAVE.

I think that would be really cool.

That's logical as well ...

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Having RFID tags for "instant checkout" would be great. I think there would at first be lots of resistance to them (mostly from people who don't trust computers), but enough people would use them that they'd be profitable to install. I'd sure use them whenever I could.

Tagging loose produce would indeed be a problem; it wouldn't be practical to put an RFID tag on each carrot or bean. So I myself wouldn't be able to just walk through the line and do nothing, since my basket is usually at least half fresh produce - but it would save some time and make the lines shorter.

In the meantime, I'll enjoy the use of today's self-service checkout machines and all the time they save me. (Even as I enjoy the memory of those old electro-mechanical cash registers I remember when I was a child. More evidence of man's ingenuity, even though they're obsolete.)

B)

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Wal-Mart has already been pushing the RFID tag idea you guys are talking about, by placing requirements on their suppliers in coming years. Not only would it allow one to walk in and out of the store and have their items automatically charged--but I imagine we would see different uses as well:

Cell phones and PDA's (which will probably be all in one in the coming years) that read RFID tags, so you have an option to view information on the product. Maybe the product's website would come up and you could make price comparisons or read the product description and features.

Instead of changing price tags, the store may just update prices through a computer. For appliance stores, this would mean less employees needed. People with cellphones, watches, and other tools may read the signal and broadcast the price visually.

It might also be nice to set your smartphone to beep when you come within the radius of a product you are looking for that you inputted (maybe as a shopping list) before you arrived. I think that this would not be useful with the current technology because the tags have a small broadcast range.

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It might also be nice to set your smartphone to beep when you come within the radius of a product you are looking for that you inputted (maybe as a shopping list) before you  arrived.

I really like that idea. Just think, if it is a rare item on your wish list, and if you are alerted to its presence as a person on the street passes by, you can follow him and make him an offer he cannot refuse! B)

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Seeing a self service gas pump remark in there, I would like to point out it is the only option you have for most of Missouri. If you want your car to run, you'll have to do it yourself.

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Most of the time, I bicycle to the grocery. With the self-checkout I get to do my own bagging, which lets me load perishables into my insulated backpack with an understanding of which areas are safe for eggs and soft produce. I can use paper bags for anything I'll strap to the bike. The rest will hang from my wrists, so I use plastic bags with handles, balanced between two sets and not packed high enough to be pendulous and interfere with riding.

If I'm driving I pack groceries differently. I'm stronger than average and like to carry all my groceries inside at once, so I double bag and pack as much into each bag as I can. I even pack some bags to be stackable.

I love the automated checkout machines. They provide another service choice for me, one where I get out of the store faster, and I get a much better product -- groceries packaged as I like them.

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