Service of Checkout at Retail: Standard or Do-It-Yourself?

December 5th, 2022

Categories: Checkout at Retail, Retail

Self-checkout at Uniqlo on Fifth Avenue, NYC

I usually avoid self-checkout for any number of reasons: Will the coupons I sent to my card register? At Target, I like to go to the cashier. When she/he checks the online price it’s often less than the in-store one. I’m charged the lesser of the two which doesn’t happen if I check myself out.

At Uniqlo the other day I was disheartened at the line for standard checkout and was forced to look into the do-it-yourself variety that had no line [photo above]. The process was amazing and so much fun I wish I had more things to buy there. An assistant who saw my look of “what do I do?” took my purchases and put them in what looked like a spotlessly clean large white garbage pail and within seconds, up came each of the prices on a screen to the left of the station as well as the total. I popped in my credit card, bagged my purchases and was done in less than a minute.

Next to me was a young man holding a bunch of things who clearly didn’t know what to do. I suggested he put the scarves, pants and tops in the pail. He did and was as stunned as I had been when his invoice arrived so quickly. The mystery is how the receptacle captures each item when the collection of goods is randomly placed inside, the price tags tucked here and there.

On another day I was in a small store which had a sale on all full-priced items. The only way to pay was at the cash register. The cashier called out the total and I questioned whether I’d been given the discount. Nope. She explained that the register hadn’t been programmed to give it. So much for my preference for using a cashier.

The moral: Pay attention no matter which method you prefer to pay.

Have you experienced any fabulous checkout devices like those at Uniqlo? Do you prefer self-checkout —even if you have coupons sent to your online company card—or the standard cashier-at-the-register kind?

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12 Responses to “Service of Checkout at Retail: Standard or Do-It-Yourself?”

  1. Linda Levi Said:

    Linda on Facebook: Haven’t used the Uniqlo system personally, but was with a friend who did and agree it was totally amazing. I like both old-fashioned cashiers and self-checkout depending on the retail outlet.

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Linda,

    That technology was remarkable! I’d be more of a fan of self-checkout if all were that convenient and easy.

  3. ASK Said:

    At the supermarket, I really prefer to check myself out. Years ago, I learned how to bag groceries and I’m always appalled at how market cashiers used to pack, or not pack, items in those plastic bags. Sometimes they would put only 2 items in one bag…really wasteful.

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:

    ASK,

    It’s a space thing but the grocery stores I visit in NYC don’t have a self-checkout option. I see it most in drugstores and at Target. I wonder if it isn’t also a theft issue here.

  5. Nancie Steinberg Said:

    Nancie on Facebook: Glad to hear this because the checkout lines at Uniqlo can be insane!

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Nancie,

    For sure! Which is what drew me to self checkout.

  7. BC Said:

    Prefer a cashier!

  8. Jeanne Byington Said:

    BC,

    I did too, BEFORE Uniqlo experience!

  9. Lucrezia Said:

    Lucrezia on Facebook: I have no preference. My goal is to leave the store, so I opt for the shortest line, and hope for the best!

  10. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Lucrezia,

    Once I’ve found what I need, I’m with you, which is how I discovered the Uniqlo marvel. The exception, as I noted in the blog, is Target, because their online prices are often cheaper and the cashier checks to see which is less. The other is CVS because I often have a bunch of coupons downloaded to my phone. The cashiers are very good at making sure you get the best deal. You don’t want the computer to take 40% off a $3.00 item when there’s one at $12!

  11. Martha T Takayama Said:

    I don’t like self-checkout and am quite sure we are not paying less because employees and services are being eliminated. I really only have experience it at the supermarket and the drugstore. It is especially annoying and difficult with packages of any significant size or weight. It is totally insensitive and problematic for those with any disability, even a cane! I wish that we could have good, well trained, decently paid employees that would make things function more efficiently.

  12. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Martha,

    I fear the days of well-trained service staff, unless in a business with profitable margins, are over. Some employees have an instinct for service; others have been brought up by parents who may be good examples and/or who work with their children to help them get along in the world with as few bruises as possible. Empathy isn’t a natural instinct I suspect.

    At Trader Joe’s anyone with a cane or who looks frail is welcomed by staff to the front of the line. Only a horrible customer also in line would complain if the older citizen went ahead of them.

    I’m blown away by employees who insist on taking you to the item you’re looking for as so many wave their arms in a general direction or give you the wrong directions as happened to me the other day. I didn’t buy the item from them that day because it wasn’t where the man said, and I wasn’t going to waste another second of my time to find it.

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