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The Rise of Self-Checkouts

5:26 PM, Nov 15, 2018

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Tamika Cody

FORT MYERS, Fla. — If it seems like there are more self-checkouts than cashiers when you head to the store, you’re definitely on to something.

Self-checkout registers have been around for nearly 26 years. The Schenectady, New York-based supermarket, Price Chopper , was the company to introduce a self-checkout register to its customers in 1992.

Self-Checkouts. Are They Taking Over?

In a sense, self-checkouts are similar to paying at the pump at gas stations, personal banking at Automated Teller Machines, and drive-thru car washes.

These days, more supermarkets and big box retailers with the likes of Target and Walmart are starting to add more self-checkouts to their stores.

“We have cashiers in all of our stores in Southwest Florida,” said Ragan Dickens, Walmart’s communications director.

“Our plan is to give customers options. Whether it is the self-checkout process, whether it’s a traditional checkout lane.”

The average cost of a self-checkout set up is approximately $30,000 . On the other hand, a traditional cash register is about $1,500 . While there’s a significant difference in price, the cost savings for companies is not having to pay an hourly cashier.

Consumers like Trevor Andrews find self-checkouts seamlessly convenient. “I went to the self-checkout because I had one item and it was really quick and easy,” said Trevor.

Although some Southwest Floridian shoppers prefer convenience, Yesenia Gomez said the absence of human cashiers is a little upsetting.

“Think of all the people losing their jobs. They are eliminating cashiers,” she said. “You don’t have that contact with another human being. It’s kinda sad.”

The evolution of checkout options doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon.

In 2013, there were more than 200,000 self-checkouts in stores throughout the world. By 2021, those numbers are expected to reach 325,000.

At this rate, it seems big retailers will continue to invest in making self-checkout machines more efficient.

In a few years, customers will be able to scan items and go all with a tap of an app. Kroger and Sam's Club are just a couple of retailers that are testing out the Scan, Bag and Go check out .

And Amazon also has shops with a similar model in Seattle, and it plans to open additional stores in New York and San Francisco. Amazon Go is able to identify you when you enter and automatically charge you when you leave without scanning any items. 

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