Monday, December 26, 2005

Project UScan 

John Palmer, Phil Miller and Don Boudreaux all wonder about the popularity of self-service checkout stands in retail stores. I've used one regularly at a local grocery for about a year. In an attempt to answer some questions, here's what I've observed.
  1. Don notes that one big user of the scanners are foreign speakers. The one at the grocery store and at our Home Depot are both bilingual Spanish/English. It would make sense, over time, to introduce other languages. The discomfort or uncertainty in dealing with a language problem at checkout is removed. I know I would have loved one in grocery stores in, say, Macedonia or Ukraine.
  2. Most of these machines handle the theft problem by sensing when something moves into the bagging area without first being scanned. And it's not unusual for a store employee to stand watching three or four self-service lanes. As Phil notes, this also cuts down one source of employee theft.
  3. Self-service means also self-bagging. More savings.
  4. It entertains the kids. Littlest Scholar insists on using the scanner and bagging. I just sit there and wait to run my debit card through the machine.