The New Automatic Checkout Vs The Old Manual Customer

It’s fair to guess that if you eat cereal for breakfast you bought it in a grocery store. If it was a standard supermarket like Aldi where you pick it off the rack and throw it into your trolley with the washing detergent, sausages, and arc welder ( Ask me about Wednesday at Aldi…) you put it on the conveyor, paid the checkout person for it, and lugged it home.

If you went to one of the bigger retail supermarkets, however, you might have been tempted or forced to try checking the stuff through yourself on a robot section. You pass things over or under a scanner – under the cold eye of a suspicious staff member – and then pay for what seems to be the total with your credit card. Then you bag it and lug it away. You also take away other things:

a. The thought that you have been forced to do the work of the normal staff in the store. For free, but under the suspicion of that staff member.

b. The thought that the total may not have been correct – and you’ve not had time or wit enough to detect it.

c. The thought that you have, yet again, given the supermarket chain and anyone to whom they wish to show the data a record of your purchases and your money.

d. The thought that the robot checkout cheats an Australian out of a job.

Any wonder why I deal mostly with my local IGA -a smaller chain that has slightly higher prices but employs three good checkout people at the front of the store to do the actual business. And I’ll be dealing more with Aldi  in the future too – if I can figure out what it is that they actually sell…

I also noted on a visit to IKEA that the robot section was empty while we all waited patiently to go through the regular tills. The people operating them are cheerful and highly efficient and the process goes smoothly. Indeed the lady at the food counter is  always happy and her mood is infectious.



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