Is self-checkout in danger of checking out?

July 6, 2011 | by Christopher Hall

Is self-checkout already on its way out?

According to Storefront Backtalk, the Albertsons LLC grocery store chain is pulling the self-checkout systems from all of its 217 stores to focus on better customer service.

SB publisher and editor Evan Shuman points out that the Albertsons news follows last month's news that Kroger is trialing a self-checkout-free store design in Texas and notes a recent IHL report indicating that Publix is "on the fence" about self-checkout.

Duane Reade may have recently rolled out a holographic "virtual assistant" digital sign in its Manhattan flagship store, but a writer for the FINS career resource website recently noted when writing about the virtual assistant that consumer surveys indicate that customers want to talk to people in retail environments.

The FINS piece referenced a recent Consumer Reports survey published earlier this month that indicates that not being able to find a store salesperson ranked among consumers' top complaints.

Of course, this also follows the news last month that the 120-store-strong Quick Chek c-store chain in New York and New Jersey has added NCR Corp. SelfServ units to 10 more of its stores, according to Convenience Store News — and news that Wincor Nixdorf has developed a completely new, 360-degree self-service automatic checkout solution for ICA, one of the biggest retail chains in Sweden.

CSN quotes Quick Check's IT head as saying the chain remains committed to the continued implementation of self-checkout at a CIO roundtable held earlier this year at the National Association of Convenience Stores' NACStech show.

And news continues to trickle in indicating that more libraries and other government-run facilities continue to embrace self-checkout and self-service technologies.

It seems somewhat premature to start crafting an obit for self-checkout just yet; although any indicators that groceries in general — easily the largest group of self-checkout deployers out there — might be moving away from self-service should send ripples of concern throughout the industry.

What do you think? Are you seeing a shift away from self-checkout, or is it just expanding into new verticals? Let us know in the comments below.

Topics: Retail , Self-Checkout , Supermarkets & Grocery , Trends / Statistics

Christopher Hall / Christopher is the editor of A longtime freelance writer and reporter, he's bringing a fresh perspective and critical take on the industry.
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