Wouldn’t it be better if self-checkout just died?

I’m pretty certain that self-checkouts at this Walmart in Fuzhou would have been absolute chaos. But on our workplace campus they were the norm and surprisingly well designed.

Self-checkouts have been around a while. Companies have been working on them since 1984, and they’ve been in stores around the US for nearly two decades. And as any interaction with the one at Walmart in Charlottetown will attest, the user experience still sucks.

It’s not as if “scanning items at a checkout” is an especially daunting task but it turns out that making an automated system that’s 95% as good as a human is relatively easy and one that’s 100% as good as a human is very hard.

“Wouldn’t the shopper be better served, customer service improved, if those (self check-outs) weren’t there?” he asks. I’m not arguing. “Why do I want to scan my own groceries?” he asks. I have no idea! “Why do I want to bag my own groceries?” he asks. An equally reasonable question with no reasonable answer. The simple solution, he points out, would be to hire enough cashiers to serve the number of customers that typically shop at the store. I agree, and this seems very obvious.

Wouldn’t it be better if self-checkout just died?