DIY Should Mean Saving Money At Home and the Store


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The latest grocery news is that the Kroger Co. is testing a new self-checkout technology. My question is: What’s in it for me?

Kroger said the system, from Fujitsu, “significantly reduces checkout times, improves customer experience and reduces operational costs for retailers.” I do believe in that third point, because self-checkout systems free up the need for actual cashiers. But how does checking out one’s own groceries improve her customer experience?

I use Kroger’s existing U-Scan self-checkout lanes whenever the lines for its traditional cashiers are snaking into the aisles, which is about 75 percent of the time because only four cashiers are on duty. And each time I leave irritated that I am paying to check and bag my own groceries through a system that is full of bugs. It is not designed to accept my re-usable bags, so there is little space to work and oftentimes items are hanging over the edge, signaling help from an associate. Frequently, the produce I have chosen is not included in the “look it up” option (really? garlic?), thus causing the system to stop everything and again signal help from an associate, who never comes. So I am forced to wait until the system kicks in again only to tell me to please remove the last checked item from my bag. And so on.

Does it save time? If it does, it is only because the supermarket created longer waits by reducing the number of cashiers on staff.

As a result, I usually shop at Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s, even though they are eight and 12 miles from my house, respectively (Kroger is one mile).

Here is an idea for all retail chains looking for ways to improve the customer experience: If you’d like us to use self-checkout lanes ­– essentially to do the work you used to pay employees to do – give us a discount! Five percent is not a lot, but it would go a long way toward building goodwill with customers who are time-starved and cash-strapped.

I am writing this as a former grocery store cashier. I used to like that job, but doing the same work for free – not so much.

Lisa Biank Fasig
Lisa leads the creation of editorials and feature stories for COLLOQUY and oversees the work of contributing editors and writers. With 18 years of reporting experience, most in business and specifically consumer behavior, she is highly skilled at researching data and teasing out the trends. A background in graphic design enables her to see ideas in three dimensions and tell the story visually.


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