Dwindling Number of Cashiers

By Evan Schuman  |  Posted 2004-08-06 Print this article Print

Partly, then, self-service is about merely allowing retailers to survive with a dwindling number of workers willing to work as cashiers for the salaries that retailers can afford to pay. One key way to overcome cashier resistance is to offer various employee incentives. There is typically insufficient margin to offer either employees or customers cash to push or use the system. "When youre only making a penny on the dollar, theres not much you can offer" to the consumer, analyst Buzek said. But employees can be incentivised in other ways. Buzek cited Krogers as a good example. When they began self-service, Buzek said, company officials "realized that there would probably be a backlash from cashiers" so they offered to move people around in the store, offering the most attractive hours and preferred holiday selections to those who worked in self-service.
Some retailers have tried to avoid the sensitive phrasing and simply declare self-service to be solely a customer benefit, pointing to advantages such as shorter lines, additional privacy and a greater feeling of control.
Are retailers giving false reasons for why they use self-service technologies? Click here to find out. Doug Miller is the director of store systems for the 1,200-store Food Lion chain and is one of those who argues that customer service is the only reason his chain likes self-service. Shoppers "can control the speed and check the total as they go," he said, as well as buy some items that the shopper may not want to share with cashiers. There are some customers, Miller said, who would rather not deal with store associates. While not disputing that self-checkout can certainly provide some advantages to customers, CapVentures McLeod said those benefits are not the reason any retailer—in his opinion—is deploying self-checkout. "The stores fully know that very, very few of its customers have any desire to use self-checkout," McLeod said. "The only reason stores are putting them in is to reduce the number of human checkers." Next Page: Customers are willing to try self-checkout as an alternative.

Evan Schuman is the editor of CIOInsight.com's Retail industry center. He has covered retail technology issues since 1988 for Ziff-Davis, CMP Media, IDG, Penton, Lebhar-Friedman, VNU, BusinessWeek, Business 2.0 and United Press International, among others. He can be reached by e-mail at Evan.Schuman@ziffdavisenterprise.com.

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