It’s no longer breaking news, the world of retail has changed, and many would say for the better. Ordering online, store pickup and delivery options, self-checkouts, and so many other choices have given customers more flexibility, more efficiency,  and have changed the way we shop.

But there’s one checkout method that hasn’t changed in a long time – cashiers stationed at a conveyor-belted lane scanning items one at a time.

Well, even that looks to be changing, and specifically at Walmart.

According to Walmart, the retail behemoth will be going fully self-checkout and/or “Scan & Go”. That means it won’t be long before you go to Walmart and you’ll no longer see cashiers or manned checkout lanes, you’ll likely see self-checkout “hosts,” and possibly one or two lanes with a cashier for those with special needs.

Yes, it’s likely that Walmart will save money by going to cashier-less checkouts, but the primary reason for the change, according to Walmart, is to speed up checkout times, give customers more choice, and give them more control over their shopping experience.

Skeptics say that a self-checkout system already exists and has failed to eliminate cashiers, and while that may be true, the system itself is not efficient and often has lines itself. If users can scan as they go rather than having to scan everything at once, it will be a more efficient process. Certainly older generations will likely be resistant to the technology and could still require the services of a cashier, but overall the demand for cashiers could significantly decline.

Although this is portrayed as a win for customers to expedite the checkout process, if stores wanted checkouts to be faster they would simply hire more cashiers. Walmart likely invested heavily into these technologies and it would be foolish to assume the low-cost giant doesn’t expect to see significant savings come as a result of this.

Customers aren’t the only ones frustrated with the self-checkout experience. Stores have challenges with it, too.

The machines are expensive to install, often break down and can lead to customers purchasing fewer items. Stores also incur higher losses and more shoplifting at self-checkouts than at traditional checkout lanes with human cashiers.

The first modern self-checkout system, which was patented by Florida company CheckRobot and installed at several Kroger stores, would be almost unrecognizable to shoppers today.

Customers scanned their items and put them on a conveyor belt. An employee at the other end of the belt bagged the groceries. Customers then took them to a central cashier area to pay.

The technology was heralded as a “revolution in the supermarket.” But self-checkout did not revolutionize the grocery store. Many customers balked at having to do more work in exchange for benefits that weren’t entirely clear.

Apparently, the technology didn’t work for Walmart’s customers.

“It took Walmart almost a year to figure out what the rest of us already know: you can’t convince customers to do the job of a cashier just because you don’t want to pay for the work, especially when eliminating cashiers doesn’t result in more convenient shopping,” says Making Change at Walmart (MCAW) director, Randy Parraz.

Meanwhile, the new technology hasn’t helped Walmart’s operating margins. And it might have added to the retail giant’s customer satisfaction problem, which remains at record low levels recently.

Watch the video below for more details:

Source: AWM

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