Self-checkout scanners are appearing in most forms of retail, most notably grocery.
This automation designed to cut labour costs and speed up efficiencies for customers are not working out as well as they were intended to.
If you have used one, chances are you got the screen message “wait for assistance”. This alarm trigger is almost always caused by the weighing scales that weigh everything you put in your bag. When the slightest deviation occurs, the machine sends a signal to the head cashier that help is needed.
I originally thought that the head cashier was there to help guide customers through the scanning event, much like the days when bank tellers guided customers using ATM’s. But that is not the case, there are so many “wait for assistance” alarms that both retailers and customers are getting frustrated.
As retailers aim to cut waiting times and speed up transaction with shelf-checkouts, they are also faced with increased theft (both deliberate and by accident).
To reduce “wait for assistance” alarms, retailers are turning off the weighing scale measuring the products you put in your bag. Others are installing video systems that are better at catching mis-scanned products. Video recording also acts as a great deterrent for those wishing to not pay for something.
If Amazon can install scanners on ceilings and measure what is taken and what is put back on shelf, I am confident that the self-checkout scanners and their automation will be improved.