Woolworths rejects concern over new in-store feature

Supermarket giant Woolworths has assured customers that the new digital price tags seen in select stores across the country are stable and will not "jump up on the spot" as some people fear.

The comments come on the back of a Reddit post that showed photos of the electronic pricing system on supermarket shelves, which Woolies has been trialing for about a year and half.

The pictures, simply captioned, "New digital price tags at Woolies," sparked a thread of comments from Reddit users who voiced their concerns about the stability of prices amid already soaring costs of goods, with some claiming that prices could jump up instantly on the digital tags.

Woolworths digital price tags on shelves
Some customers fear that prices of goods could increase instantly with Woolworths' digital price tags, which have been rolled out in select across Australia. Credit: Reddit/swfnbc

Instant increases?

"You pick an item, price goes up on the spot," one Redditor wrote, which was followed by a flurry of similar comments from other users on the thread.

"I'm curious about the legalities of this, if you were to pick up an item and it is marked at one price and you get to the checkout and it has gone up," wrote one concerned shopper.

Many shoppers worried that the technology could be used in tandem with other personal data.

"Allows them to fluctuate prices like crypto," commented a second, who theorised that by assessing customer information, Woolies could "dynamically change prices based on the purchase rates."

Another person suggested that electronic tags would allow for prices to be dictated by customer demand. "Customise prices based on time of day, stock levels, store location, neighbourhood density, and so on," he wrote. "Basically make prices go like flight tickets."

"Fluctuate the price based on individual's known spending habits, income and social credit score," added another Redditor.

One shopper hypothesised that the store would use facial recognition technology combined with a customer's synced smart home apps to learn which products the shopper regularly purchases in order to "know what you're out of and desperately need, then increase prices on the spot."

Woolworths quashes price jump claims

A Woolworths spokesperson, however, assured customers that claims of "prices jumping on the spot" is something that would never happen, as these updates tend to be done outside store hours.

Speaking with Yahoo News, the spokesperson explained that the digital price tags were introduced to not only reduce paper, but to also "make things more efficient", as updating prices tends to be a pain-point for supermarket staff at the end of an already long day.

"These electronic labels are designed to reduce paper, update the latest prices and specials in real time, and reduce manual ticketing to allow our team to focus on serving customers and replenishing shelves," the spokesperson told Yahoo News.

The Woolworths spokesperson also said that since they began trials last year, the new price tags have been well received, adding that the retailer will continue to gather more feedback in the coming months.

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