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Coles, Woolworths and Aldi stand by self-checkouts as overseas supermarkets ditch them

British supermarket Booths made international headlines last week with their surprise change. But Aussie supermarket giants say they won't be following suit.

With reports that international supermarkets are rolling back self-serve checkouts, many people are wondering if Australian chains Coles, Woolworths and Aldi will follow suit.

British supermarket Booths, which operates in northern England, made international headlines with its announced move back to manned tills last week. It said customer feedback showed shoppers believed self-checkouts were “unreliable” and “impersonal”.

“We believe colleagues serving customers delivers a better customer experience and therefore we have taken the decision to remove self-checkouts in the majority of our stores,” the company said.

But closer to home, major retailers Aldi, Coles and Woolworths told Yahoo News they are sticking by the technology, overwhelmingly saying they are the checkout of choice for most Australians.

Australian supermarkets back self-checkouts as international retailers reconsider technology. Source: AAP
Australian supermarkets back self-checkouts as international retailers reconsider technology. Source: AAP

Customers 'checkout of choice' is self-serve

Coles told Yahoo News self-service checkouts are the top choice for more than two in three customers and offer “convenience and efficiency,” saying they “help customers check out more quickly and pack their bags the way they like”.

“Over the past year, we have seen greater customer satisfaction and uptake in our self-service options.

“Of course, if customers prefer to be served by a team member, someone will always be available in the service area to serve them.”

Meanwhile, Woolies shared that while self-service is here to stay, for customers who prefer to be served by a team member, “there is always that option in all of our stores".

“We know there’s many different opinions on the use of this technology and that’s why we have a range of ways for customers to complete their shop,” a spokesperson said.

“Our supermarkets employ more team members than ever before as we expand to cater to a range of different shopping needs. From rapid grocery delivery, to the traditional in-store experience, as well as other convenient options like Direct to Boot.”

A 'win-win' for everyone

Aldi, who only started introducing self-checkouts in 2021, pointed Yahoo to a blog post where store operations director Hayden Pierce said that self-checkouts are “not only efficient for our customers but also support our business operations by freeing up our employees to focus on customer service, stock replenishment and store presentation.” He argued the technology is a “win-win for everybody”.

Booths in the UK is not the only retailer to reconsider its checkout strategy, with major US retailers Walmart, Costco, Wegmans and other chains dialling back the technology.

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