Supermarket chain ditches self-serve checkouts amid calls for Coles and Woolworths to do the same: Here’s their message to fed-up Aussies
Love them or hate them, self-service checkouts are here to stay in Australian supermarkets, despite overseas stores going back to old-fashioned customer service.
British supermarket chain Booths has become the latest company to ax self-service checkouts in response to customer feedback labeling the technology as slow, unreliable and impersonal.
Costco in the US has eliminated almost all of its cash-and-carry operations machines and put staff back behind counters, while Walmart also moved away from the controversial technology.
With self-service checkouts sparking outrage from customers, Ny Breaking Australia, along with Costco Australia, approached four major Australian supermarket chains to ask if they had plans to scrap self-service checkouts. Their detailed answers are below.
Some were reluctant to answer specific questions, such as whether more cash registers would be staffed over the Christmas period.
IGA seems to be a chain that is bucking the self-service trend, where the priority is still on personal service.
Major supermarkets Coles and Woolworths have no plans to scrap self-service options and return to manned checkouts
Canstar Blue editor-in-chief Christine Seib predicted there would be many ‘upset’ shoppers if self-service checkouts were removed from supermarkets
A recent Canstar Blue survey found that the high percentage of Australians who prefer to do their shopping in-store is split between self-service registers.
While 41 percent of shoppers prefer to be served at the checkout, another 34 percent find it faster and more convenient to do this themselves.
Professor Gary Mortimer, a retail expert from Queensland University of Technology Business School, told Ny Breaking Australia that self-service checkouts are now part of the wider economy, not just supermarkets.
‘Department stores and fast food restaurants have them now. Even if you check in at the airport or in many hotels, there are self-service kiosks,” he said.
Professor Mortimer said he did not see Australian supermarkets following the lead of foreign chains, pointing out that Booths consists of just 27 stores.
But he acknowledged that retailers need a combination of self-service and staffed checkouts.
“There will always be consumers who want a personal experience and prefer social interaction, while others just want to hop in and out,” he said.
Canstar Blue’s survey of almost 2,880 Australian supermarket customers found that 87 percent prefer to shop in-store.
Of the 34 percent who preferred self-service checkouts, three-quarters said it was faster, while one in five didn’t like the human interaction of a manned checkout.
Canstar Blue editor-in-chief Christine Seib told Ny Breaking Australia it appeared many shoppers were as happy with self-service as with manned checkouts.
“It appears that while some shoppers may prefer one or the other, many are equally happy with either option,” Canstar Blue editor-in-chief Christine Seib told Ny Breaking Australia.
‘Australian supermarket shoppers tend to focus on price and convenience, with customer service not being as high a priority when it comes to choosing a supermarket.
‘Shoppers can expect Australian supermarkets to adopt the right combination of these factors for their local market, such as keeping manned checkouts where they are highly valued and offering predominantly self-service checkouts in busy stores where customers can get in and out in just a few steps. want to run out. a few purchases.’
Below you will find the four supermarkets’ positions on self-service checkouts.
Ms Seib agrees with Professor Mortimer that retailers need a mix of checkout options to meet customer demand.
‘While shoppers have a number of understandable objections to self-service checkouts – ranging from the impact on employment to the principle of paying higher prices for groceries while simultaneously taking on the task of paying for their groceries – it is fact that a third of shoppers prefer to use a self-service checkout means that rolling back its use would likely upset a large group of shoppers.”
Below you will find the supermarkets’ position on self-service checkouts.
It is not yet known whether Costco Australia (store pictured) will follow its US counterparts
QUT Business School retail expert Professor Gary Mortimer (pictured) says self-service checkouts are not going anywhere
The independent chain, which consists of 1,300 points of sale nationwide, goes against the trend towards self-service checkouts.
“While some of our IGA stores have a self-service option, the priority is and has always been to put people first in our stores,” a spokesperson said.
“We appreciate that self-service provides convenience, especially when customers are in a hurry or only have a few items. But when it comes to human contact, nothing can replace the experience of a face-to-face interaction at our checkouts.”
Some IGA stores have opted for exclusively manned checkouts, others offer both manned and self-service checkouts depending on customer needs.
“We hear hundreds of stories a week through our network about the unique interactions between different communities and store team members, so we know that a friendly ‘how’s your day?’ can make someone’s day,” the spokesperson added.
“We also know that whether it’s a parent trying to juggle their kids and groceries, or an elderly customer who needs help with their belongings, the support of our team at the checkout is a huge help to our community.”
Although IGA has a self-service option in some stores, the priority is ‘people first’
Costco has 15 stores across Australia.
“One of our priorities at Costco is our members’ shopping experience,” said General Manager Patrick Noone.
‘Our members have responded positively to the self-service checkouts, a great way to increase convenience in the warehouses.
We have them in five of our Australian warehouses, Canberra, North Lakes, Adelaide, Marsden Park and Lake Macquarie, with plans to expand to more warehouses in the future.
“Nonetheless, we believe our staffed checkouts are integral to providing members with a personalized service, so they will continue to be a big part of the Costco shopping experience.
A Woollies spokesperson said: ‘We know some customers prefer to be served by a team member and that’s why there is always that option in all our stores.
‘Millions of transactions are carried out every day through our self-service checkouts.
‘The use of self-service technology is common at airports and train stations, and customer feedback shows that our self-service checkouts are popular for their convenience and speed.’
“Our grocery stores employ more team members than ever before as we expand to meet a range of different shopping needs – from fast grocery delivery to the traditional shopping experience, as well as other convenient options like Direct to Boot.
“We know there are many different opinions on how to use this technology and that’s why we have several ways for customers to complete their store.”
According to Woolworths, millions of shoppers use the self-service checkouts every day
Coles says it remains focused on offering a range of checkout options for customers.
“Self-service checkouts are a great option for customers as they provide convenience and efficiency when shopping in our stores, allowing customers to check out faster and pack their bags the way they want,” a spokesperson said.
‘This makes them the cash register of choice for more than 2 in 3 customers, and we continue to see these numbers increasing.
“Over the past year, we have seen increased customer satisfaction and greater acceptance of our self-service options. If customers prefer to be served by a team member, there is of course always someone in the service area to serve them.
“We have never been more committed to supporting Australians with employment, having recruited an additional 22,000 team members compared to five years ago.”
Coles says more than two-thirds of its customers prefer the convenience of self-service checkouts (pictured)
Aldi recently announced it will ramp up its rollout of self-service checkouts, two years after the first one was installed as part of a trial in central Sydney’s Darlinghurst.
By the end of 2023, approximately 200 of the 580 stores will have self-checkouts.
Aldi sees the technology as a win-win situation as it is not only efficient for customers, but also frees up staff to focus on customer service, stock replenishment and store presentation.
Rather than answer questions, Aldi Ny Breaking Australia referred to a fact sheet on its website with comments from Hayden Pierce, director of national store operations.
“Aldi stores will continue to operate with both self-checkouts and manned checkouts, so customers can still choose the option they prefer,” he said on the website.
‘Customers can ask an Aldi employee to open a manned cash register if one is not already available.’
About 200 of Aldi’s 580 stores across Australia will have self-service checkouts by December
There are self-service checkouts, unlike those in Costco stores in the US (pictured)