Woolworths scales back self-serve checkout

Woolworths is scaling back its self-service checkouts in inner-city stores to speed up customer service.

Woolworths is scaling back its self-service checkouts in inner-city stores to speed up customer service.

Since 2008, Woolworths has offered self-service checkouts for customers in 400 retail outlets across the country. They allow customers to scan, bag and pay for their own groceries. To date, Woolworths has approximately 2000 self-serve checkouts stationed across Australia.

The implementation was not smooth, but the company reported in May 2011 that IT system upgrades had reduced supervisor intervention by 68 per cent. However, as first reported by The Australian Financial Review, Woolworths will now remove the self-serve checkouts from inner-city stores, such as its flagship Town Hall outlet in Sydney. All self-serve checkouts in this store will be removed, to be replaced by a single-line queue.

"At this stage, we are looking at reducing the number of self-serve checkouts in a very small number of stores in inner-city locations. This is all about increasing customer convenience, and getting them through the checkout in the shortest amount of time," Woolworths told ZDNet Australia in a statement.

Woolworths would not go further into its reasoning for removing the self-serve checkouts. However, in addition to initial requirements for more supervisors than expected, reports surfaced of customers cheating the system by paying for cheaper fruit or vegetables than those they were actually purchasing.

The Town Hall Woolworths outlet has been the testing ground for many of the company's technology innovations; most recently, Woolworths trialled a virtual supermarket in both Town Hall and Melbourne's Flinders Street Station.

Coles, which also has its own self-service system in both Coles and Kmart outlets, could not be reached for comment at the time of writing.

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