If you’re a robot working as a cashier, the trend detailed in this Forbes article must be discouraging:
According to a recent Food Marketing Institute study, fewer people are using self-checkouts at the grocery store. They accounted for 22% of all supermarket transactions in 2007, but have since declined to 16% of transactions in 2010. The same study noted that customers were more satisfied with human-run checkout lanes.
This blog is certain to spend a lot of time examining the implications of increasingly ubiquitous automation – but in this case, the trend appears to be going in the other direction.
Hat tip to Paul Raven over at Futurismic.
Interesting point. Any indication as to why? Is it that the technology just isn’t that user friendly? Is there a psychological push toward cashiers? I wonder what people in this sector are looking to change about their self checkout systems.
It’s strange that I like the idea of phasing out self checkout in favor of cashiers. It stimulates jobs and provides a beneficial human interaction in society when its so easy not to interact with those around us. The strangeness stems from the fact that I typically use the self check out, though this is likely due to the line being shorter these days.
Thanks for commenting! To your question, the study doesn’t really suggest a reason. Paul Raven, whom I link to above, theorizes that people simply prefer human interaction. I’m a bit more cynical, though: I think automated cashiers are becoming less popular because they’re not actually automating anything – they’re simply offloading the cashier’s work onto the customer – and people have caught on to that (that said, I too use the self-checkout all the time).
Personally, I also prefer buying from a human rather than a robot, especially if it’s keeping that human employed. What I really want is for RFID chips and digital wallets to advance to the point where I can just walk out of the store with my stuff and have it all automatically deducted from my checking account… but that’s a subject for another post.
We humans are social beings. I choose to interact with people directly whenever possible so I am definitely part of the group moving away from robot-provided self-service. Does seem that robots are providing precision in many manufacturing settings.