The practice of self-service, once lauded for its speed and convenience, is undergoing a serious reevaluation by retail giants such as Walmart, Costco, and other popular stores in the United States.
Self-checkout kiosks, once the savior of hurried shoppers, might soon become a thing of the past. Why are shopping malls having this radical shift?
Increase in losses, mainly due to the theft at self-checkouts
The decision to eliminate these kiosks is not merely capricious; it is backed by a series of challenges that major retail chains have faced in recent times. One of the primary concerns is the significant increase in losses, mainly due to the theft of products by customers themselves.
According to the Journal of Applied Psychology, the theft rate at self-checkout kiosks is four times higher than at registers staffed by employees. This staggering statistic is supported by a survey from VoucherCodesPro.co.uk, revealing that one in five shoppers admits to committing theft during the self-checkout process.
Walmart’s CEO warned that the chain might close some locations
In response to this alarming trend, Walmart’s CEO, Doug McMillion, told CNBC, “Theft is a problem. It’s greater than it has been historically.” Furthermore, he warned that the chain might take drastic measures, such as closing some locations or adjusting product prices if the situation does not improve.
However theft is not the only challenge facing self-checkout kiosks. Errors in purchases have also become a recurring issue. Customers mistakenly marking fruits and vegetables have led to incorrect charges and the need for intervention by staff.
The purchase of alcoholic beverages, on the other hand, adds another layer of complexity, requiring the presence of staff to verify the customer’s age. These inconveniences have prompted a profound reassessment of the actual utility of self-checkout kiosks.
Walmart is not the only chain removing self-checkout
In response to these challenges, Walmart has taken bold steps, removing self-checkout machines from some stores in New Mexico in early 2023. Costco has also acknowledged significant losses associated with this service.
On the flip side, Target has implemented restrictions, limiting shoppers to 10 items or fewer at these kiosks in an attempt to mitigate issues related to theft and purchase errors.
The convenience of self-payment in the world of retail consumption is threatened by significant challenges. Is the end of self-checkout kiosks looming in the United States? Time will tell how these practices will evolve in the ever-changing landscape of retail commerce.