Shoppers hit out at Woolworths' new self-serve tactic

Shoppers have hit out at Woolworths’ innovative self-serve checkout unveiled at a new Melbourne store this week.

Millers Junction Woolworths in Melbourne’s west was treated to Victoria’s first self-serve checkout specifically for trolleys, which could potentially solve customer’s woes about over-crowding in the self-serve area.

“I think it’s a great idea, and I really love self service,” one person said in response to the Yahoo News article on the new technology.

“The only time we don’t use it is if we had a full trolley, but the new self-serve would solve that problem.”

However, most people responded with comments indicating they were not happy with the innovation.

A new self-serve checkout designed for people to take their trolleys through has been unveiled at a brand new Woolworths in Melbourne. Source: Facebook - Mumma Knows West.

Many people expressed their dislike for self-serve checkouts because they “take people’s jobs” and eliminate human interaction.

“This company still doesn't get it. If you go shopping you do not want to have to serve yourself as well. Business is just greedy for money, cut jobs, no staff for the customer to interact with,” one person said.

“No jobs for the young kids to get a kickstart in the workforce. Computers have definitely helped but before you know it nobody will be working because robots and computers will do it all.”

“This solves nothing, now the slow morons that really should not be using self check out to begin with will take up more space and waste more time,” another person said.

According to a Yahoo News poll, out of almost 2000 people, 44 per cent of shoppers say they hate others taking trolleys to self-service checkouts.

In a Yahoo News poll, 44 per cent of people out of almost 2000 said they hated shoppers taking their trolleys to self-serve checkouts. Source: Yahoo News Australia

However, retail expert Professor Gary Mortimer from Queensland University of Technology says self-serve check outs does not equal less employees, and it’s neither faster or slower than traditional checkouts.

“Roles are simply moved from one area to another,” Professor Mortimer told Yahoo News Australia.

“I think the service is still the same, it’s just with one option you’re actually actively involved in controlling your transaction - and some shoppers like that.”

Shoppers are concerned the new checkouts will mean less service and less supermarket jobs. Source: Getty Images.

Self-serve checkouts can be slower than service checkouts

Professor Mortimer said there is a mindset that it is faster to unload, scan and bag your own groceries through self-serve, however he says it takes about the same amount of time as an employee doing it for you, or if they are highly experienced, it’s often faster.

Professor Mortimer said the way self-service checkout queues are set up gives the illusion you are getting out of the shop quicker.

Thinking you’re in the slowest queue isn’t exclusive for shoppers in supermarkets – being disillusioned by how “slow” a line is moving can happen when lining up under any circumstance – at a bank or when going through immigration at an airport.

In reality, most queues at a supermarket will move at the same pace, according to Professor Mortimer.

“Because we are stressed and because we are perceived to be time-poor, it doesn’t matter which queue you’re in, you’re always going to believe you’re in the slowest queue,” he said.

Professor Mortimer said although it may seem quicker going through self-serve, it's usually the same amount of time. Source: Sergio Dionisio / Bloomberg via Getty.

Self-serve checkouts also utilise a “snake-style” - a single line, while people wait to jump on a checkout, which is “constantly moving”, Professor Mortimer explains.

“The perception is ‘Wow, this is really quick’, but there could be 20 customers ahead of you, but when you’re standing in a checkout there might be two people in front, and you go ‘This is going really slow’,” Professor Mortimer said.

“It’s just the movement which creates the psychology that things are moving faster.”

The future of supermarket checkouts

Professor Mortimer believes retailers across the board will look to provide shoppers with different ways to transact their goods.

Self-serve check outs designed for trolleys is just one way retailers like Woolworths are looking to give everyone a way to shop that suits them, he says.

Professor Gary Mortimer believes in the future retailers will look for more ways customers can shop and pay for the good. Source: Getty Images.

The new self-serve option that is designed for people with trolleys could become more common over the next few years

“I think these types of conveyor belt style self-service technologies will roll out, I don’t think they will be predominant across all checkouts but there will certainly be one or two options for customers,” Professor Mortimer said.

“Particularly in busier stores.”

Like all technology, getting used to self-serve can take time to get used to, before it becomes second nature, according to Professor Mortimer and it comes down to what the customer prefers.

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