Woolworths customers frustrated over new 'cash handling' checkouts

·4-min read

New registers are being trialled in selected Woolworths supermarkets which don’t allow checkout operators to handle any cash.

Instead, customers will use the cash handling technology themselves to pay for their shop. The system is operating in two NSW stores with shoppers saying they’ve been frustrated by longer wait times as the trial is rolled out.

The new checkout system still requires a Woolworths employee to scan and bag a customer’s grocery items, however, they will not handle any cash or payments and won’t have access to a till.

If customers are paying by cash, they will need to insert it into the register themselves. If they are paying by EFTPOS, the staff member will activate the EFTPOS. Cash-out is still an option and will need to be processed by the staff member.

Cash register Woolworths Jordan Springs.
Woolworths is trialling new 'cash handling technology’ at their Jordan Springs store. Source: Supplied.

So far, the technology has been rolled out at two Woolworths supermarket locations, Jordan Springs and Spring Farm in Sydney's west.

The first of the new-look registers was unveiled at Spring Farm at the end of 2020. The Jordan Springs store has only received the new registers recently.

A Woolworths spokesperson said the trial is taking place to make the checkout process more efficient, by allowing staff members to continue packing bags or helping customers pack items in their trolley while the customer pays.

It also aims to eliminate cash handling errors and lessen cash handling by staff.

Customers aren’t convinced with new technology

While Woolworths says the new technology aims to enhance efficiency for shoppers at the checkout, some customers aren’t convinced.

Jordan Springs shopper Sharon told Yahoo News Australia the registers at her store were actually holding up customers.

“People were trying to insert their cash and it kept spitting it out causing a long queue to occur,” she said,

“People were getting frustrated and almost in tears over them."

"I just feel the personal touch has gone out of shopping.”

Sharon added that the new registers were making her reconsider where she did her weekly shop, saying even staff members were “getting frustrated” with the change at the checkout.

“After a couple weeks I’m sure the problems will iron out as everyone gets used to them but I just feel Covid-19 has changed things, and not for the better.”

Self-serve registers inside Woolworths' York Metro Store.
Woolworths customers now have a choice of self-serve checkouts, traditional registers and the new cash handling registered currently being trialled. Source: Getty Images.

Other shoppers, however, said they are no different from using self-serve checkouts.

“What’s the big issue? No difference between using a self-serve machine or ATMs,” one shopper said on the Woolworths Facebook page.

“The staff are still serving you and packing your bags. I think it’s a smart bit of equipment. Can you imagine how excited a kid would be to use it!”

Woolworths responds to shoppers concerns

A Woolworths spokesperson told Yahoo News Australia that the initiative is being trialed by other overseas retailers.

“We’re trialling new cash handling technology at some of our staffed checkouts in two NSW stores,” the spokesperson said.

“The aim of the trial is to see if the technology can help make the checkout process more efficient and reduce cash handling errors for the benefit of our customers.”

While the trials are taking place, customers will still have access to all of the regular checkout options in-store.

“We’ll keep a close eye on customer feedback before determining our next steps,” the spokesperson added.

Smart shopping trolley Woolworths store
A shopper has asked Woolworths to consider trialling smart trolleys as seen in the US. Source: TikTok/Getty

Customers keen on smart trolley technology

Despite Woolworths trailing the new cash technology, some customers are wanting them to take things a step further and introduce smart shopping trolleys, similar to Amazon.

The technology involves a shopping cart that has an inbuilt scanner and processes a customer’s shop as they add items to the trolley.

"When is Woolworths going to copy Amazon and replace self-serve checkouts with these new trolleys?" One shopper recently asked on the Woolworths Facebook page.

Woolworths responded saying: “We understand you'd love to see these trolleys available to use in our stores instead of the self-checkouts.”

“We appreciate you taking the time to share this with us, please know this has been brought to the attention of our team for their awareness.”

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