The advance of technology helps facilitate our lives a great deal, but do we pay a high price when it comes to relying on the machines way more than we should?
In order to speed up the process of running errands and shopping for groceries, Walmart introduced self-checkouts. What they didn’t expect, however, is to face backlash because of this decision that many of the customers consider controversial.
The self-service machines aren’t something new. In fact, they were first introduced in the 1980s to lower labor expenses.
But this service faced plenty of obstacles and customers complain to the added responsibilities.
For example, certain items may have multiple barcodes, whereas the produce, including the meat, fruit, and vegetable, typically needs to be weighed and manually entered into the system using a code, which might be time consuming for the ordinary shoppers. Other times shoppers won’t hear the “beep” confirming an item has been scanned properly.
Another issue is the increase of theft. Walmart announced that thefts at its stores has reached an all-time high.
The machines not only fall short at their purpose of making shopping easier at times, but they also make it harder for the employees they were meant to help.
Christopher Andrews, a sociologist and author of The Overworked Consumer: Self-Checkouts, Supermarkets, and the Do-It-Yourself Economy, says the system “doesn’t work well for anyone.”
He continued: “Everyone feels like they have to have it. Companies are thinking: ‘If we can just get more people on this, maybe we can start reducing some overheads.’”
What’s most, most of the customers have reported that they miss the human interaction while shopping.
Randy Parraz from Making Change at Walmart perfectly summed up customer sentiments by saying, “You can’t convince customers to do the job of a cashier just because you don’t want to pay for the work.”
Walmart decided to listen to what their customers had to say and instead of further expanding automation, the retail giant will hire additional cashiers to provide their customers with a pleasant shopping experience and service.
What Walmart and the rest of the retailers, among which Costco and Wegmans, learned is that efficiency is important but maintaining a balance with positive experiences remains crucial.
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