Some people love self-checkout at the grocery store. Others hate it. A chain gets rid of it.
“We believe that serving colleagues provides a better customer experience and that is why we have made the decision to remove self-checkouts in the majority of our stores,” announced Booths, a North Wales supermarket chain. England which has been selling groceries for over 170 years.
“Our customers have told us over time, that the self-scan machines we have in our stores can be slow, unreliable, they are obviously impersonal,” Booths managing director Nigel Murray said. , at the BBC. .
He noted that Booths stores sell many items in bulk, such as fruit and baked goods, which customers often struggle to self-pay with. For example, a shopper may not distinguish one type of apple from another, leading to on-screen confusion.
“There’s all kinds of noise about it, and as soon as you put alcohol in your cart, someone has to come and check that you’re the right age,” Murray noted.
He also stressed the importance of human contact.
“We are a company that prides itself on high standards and high levels of warm, personal care,” he said. “We love talking to people and we’re really proud of moving largely to a place where our customers are served by people, by human beings.
Booths bucks a trend toward more self-checkouts that has reshaped large swaths of retail in recent decades, with many businesses attracted by the long-term savings that can be made by replacing cashiers humans.
The response to this decision has been divided. Ghee Bowman, author and historian, wrote on X: “Wow! Let’s hear it for supermarkets @BoothsCountry, who are pushing back the wave of self-checkouts! »
Another X user seemed less excited, in writing: “I recently went to a Sainsbury’s store in Buxton which didn’t have a self-checkout so they apparently took all the staff to the checkouts due to a huge queue. People have full conversations with checkout staff despite this. No more self-checkouts, please.
But like Murray said The grocer“We pride ourselves on great customer service and you can’t do that with a robot.” His chain will remove self-checkouts from all but two of its 28 stores.
Additionally, chatting with cashiers is, for many, an important part of the shopping experience, even if it slows things down.
“I love chatting with the staff, even briefly, especially since I live alone. Talking with human staff is important to me. Now that experiment has been taken away,” wrote Pat McCarthy, launching a petition on Change.org calling on supermarket giant Tesco to “stop replacing people with machines.” It has collected more than 243,000 signatures.
Booths sided with that sentiment. “Delighting customers with our warm Northern welcome is part of our DNA,” the company said, “and we continue to invest in our people to ensure we stay true to this philosophy.” »
This story was originally featured on Fortune.com