The company says the self-serve lanes, opened in 2003 to speed up the checkout process and save money, will be phased out of its stores by the end of the year, and standard service lanes will be added.
Big Y claims an internal study determined that checkout times actually lengthened because customers struggled with bar codes, coupons and payment methods.
Over the past three years, supermarket chain Albertsons, which owns and operates 217 stores in Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Louisiana, New Mexico, Texas and Utah, has done away with self-serve lanes in all its stores, says spokeswoman Christine Wilcox.
“We wanted all of our customers to have a personal experience as they were leaving,” she says.
While Big Y and other stores claim self-serve lanes can’t replace the service provided by real human beings, they’re clearly only interested in quicker check out times to maximize profits.
Grocery chain Kroger announced plans to replace self-serve lanes in one of its Houston stores with smaller “metro style” express lanes during a remodel.
The metro style checkout — similar the the 10 items or less lane — caters to customers with smaller baskets; customers wait in one line, where they can be directed to multiple cashiers.
The method saves time and space, says spokesman Keith Dailey. Six metro lanes can fit in the space taken up by two standard checkout lanes.
Dailey says Kroger has no intention of phasing out self-checkout on a company-wide basis. Kroger is experimenting with a pilot program at a Cincinnati-area store where customers use the “scan, bag, go” system.
Customers are provided with an electronic scanner when they enter the store, allowing them to scan items as they shop. The system keeps a running tab of their purchases and lets customers bag as they go.
Dailey claims the program has received positive feedback, especially from customers on a budget; the program allows them to keep a running tally of what they’re spending.
A few months back, Blanca wrote an interesting article on cashier line mechanics at the supermarket, and determined a study of phone systems in 1909 revealed the secret to a quick and smooth moving line.
The study concluded that when there is one line for multiple cashiers (like the waiting queue at a bank), instead customers forming a line at each cashier counter, an interruption at one cashier does not prevent the line from moving evenly. If one cashier is delayed, the other cashiers are still processing people and the traffic disperses smoothly.