The Intrepid Explorer: Oct. 28, 2022


I’m sure you have noticed, as I have, the new method of checkout that is being forced upon us as consumers. Self-checkout machines are rapidly being scaled widely at retailers across the country even right here in the quiet little utopia of Pinedale.

This is being done on the premise that they help customers exit the store faster while freeing up employees for other tasks. Let us not forget as well this also allows the stores to cut back on the human workforce.

It might just be me, as I do have different thoughts, ideas and mythology in the way I think and do things, but I feel I’m being used a bit when I am forced to exit through self-checkout. I freely walk into a store to give them a bit of the scant currency that may be in my pocket and they don’t want to even thank me for it. Perhaps if I were on the store's payroll I would feel different about being tunneled through a line of scanners.

I just want to give them my dollar, smile and get a smile or some other type of human interaction, even if it is unwanted feedback. Self-checkout lacks human interaction and makes personalization difficult. Not to mention the lack of attention, inflexibility and creating extra work for myself for the store's profit.

Retail stores rebutt this by saying the advantage of self-checkout allows consumers to purchase goods on their own terms without having to wait for an employee to be free to help. Studies say that 66 percent of consumers prefer self-service options to interacting with store employees. If this is true, this is very sad.

Retail stores — or I should be more defined with labeling and say corporations — look at self-service strategy as only convenience and speed. Their belief is that today's customers require real-time responses, which builds trust and loyalty. They implement this efficiency in order to reduce the administrative burden and deliver effortless, unsocial interactions and at the same time lose social interaction.

We are rapidly becoming completely antisocial. We have forfeited the want and need for human interaction and replaced it with cell phones and social. This places a new reality while defraying our ability to be kind, caring humans that can find enjoyment interacting with other humans.

The true cell phone junkie already wants to replace the self-checkout kiosks with the cell phone app so they don’t have to place their phone down to shop. Don’t chuckle as it is a real thing and the app is on your phone. 

Self-service was first brought in 1967 to the United Kingdom.

The Automatic Teller Machine, ATM, made its public debut, dispensing cash to customers and eliminating the need to visit a bank to conduct basic financial transactions.

Self-checkout systems supposedly make shopping convenient, reduce check-out friction, plus save the corporations from paying wages and payroll taxes, but they also can lead to more thefts.

Each year it is estimated that more than $13 billion worth of goods are stolen from U.S. retailers. Supermarkets annually lose 1.35 percent of their inventory to theft. These issues also represent a major loss in tax revenue for U.S. and global jurisdictions. 

I would be fearful of calling this good news as again, “We don’t know what we got until it's gone.” The new technology advances are mitigating shoplifting risk. 

Next-generation radio frequency identification (RFID) technology uses electromagnetic fields to automatically identify and track tags attached to items. Each item leaving the store receives an electromagnetic interrogation pulse from a nearby RFID reader device. The tag transmits digital data back to the reader, including when it entered inventory and when it was purchased. If it wasn’t successfully scanned and paid for, the store is alerted in real time. As this technology continues to become less expensive, more retailers will deploy it.

Not to wallow in the panic and trepidation of another conspiracy theory but, what if?

For now, many grocers and other retailers will need to remain vigilant from a loss-prevention standpoint.

The technology now is the simplicity of weight at a self-checkout counter. The customer uses a machine to scan items and puts them in a bag. The weight of the items in the bag is measured to confirm that the item scanned is the one added to the bag. 

I may be old school but I feel technology is a tool and not a way of life. The further we separate ourselves from human contact, the less human we become. When you get to the checkout person look at their nametag and use their name before you walk away. Remember that these people are dealing with angry, unkind, social misfits all day long. Show them what being human is supposed to be like. - dbA

You can find more of the unfiltered insight of Dan Abernathy at www.contributechaos.com and please SUBSCRIBE to my YouTube Channel, The Intrepid Explorer.      

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