Verdict: Self-Checkout Technology is a Failure

The machines malfunction, IDs must be checked for age-restricted products, there are too few store workers there to help, and self-checkout technology is not living up to its promise. It falls severely short.

For retailers, it was the epitome of cost-cutting and an answer to worker shortage. However, customers need help, and theft is up. In the long run, it costs more money.

Some retailers have invested millions, if not billions, in self-checkout technology. Despite the cost, many retailers are giving up. Target, for example, now restricts the number of items in self-checkout lines. Dollar General, in 2022, embraced self-checkout technology. However, they plan to increase the number of store employees, particularly in the checkout area.

Some retailers claim theft is a motivator for ditching the unstaffed tills. Some data shows retailers using the technology have loss rates more than 2x the industry average.

In a 2021 survey of 1,000 American shoppers, 60% of consumers said they prefer self-checkout over a staffed checkout aisle when given the choice, yet 67% reported the technology failed while trying to use it.

While businesses want to cut costs, shoppers want to get in and out of a store. Many large retail chains are likely to keep kiosks in stores due to sunk costs.

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