Self service or ‘manned’ checkout sir/madam?

A recent newspaper report, apparently, suggests that the British public dislike the self-service checkouts that have now appeared in virtually all of the big 4’s stores. However, the supermarkets seem hellbent of introducing more and more of these things, despite this sort of feedback and the distrust of their own staff, who see this as yet another way for the management to cut jobs.

Just like extending Sunday trading hours, out of town supermarkets and just about all the other retrograde steps the supermarkets have managed to impose upon us, the supermarkets are quick to tell us, ‘it’s what the public tell us they want’.

In the case of self service checkouts, our local Sainsbury’s is ensuring that customer behaviour supports the company view, by manipulating checkout provision in the store, how? Location, location, location, as the estate agents say.

When I visited the store this afternoon, there were only 4 manned checkouts open, so of course lots of people were using the self service checkouts. However, in order to make doubly sure customers gravitated towards self service, 3 of the 4 mannered checkouts, we’re at the far end of the checkout row, thereby ensuring that people went for the closer option.

Supermarkets are true masters of behaviour manipulation when it comes to making the public perform in the way they want us to, by product location, use of music and in some cases, clever lighting. This seems to be yet another example of this cynical behaviour.

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