We discuss how self-service is taking over the world... one checkout at a time
Back in the 1970s, petrol stations were packed with uniformed attendants, standing at the pumps, ready to fill up your car for you (God forbid having to fill up your own vehicle).
Nowadays, motorists have to get out of their car, fill up their petrol, and then pay themselves. No longer can we take a power nap or jam out to tunes in the car whilst someone does all the work for us.
It may be surprising that self-checkout machines are not new technology. Dr. Howard Schneider invented the first self-checkout machine in 1992, and by 2003, they started making their way into stores across the world. Nowadays, across the UK, self-service checkout machines are completing their takeover. Tesco is expanding its self-checkout machines aiming to replace manned tills. Gone are the days when you’d get a glance of disapproval when your shop consists of 5 bottles of Vodka, a meal deal and a tonne of sweets. Personally, I’ll miss the quick chat with the friendly cashier.
Tesco’s decision has sparked outrage. Over 230,000 people have signed a petition to stop Tesco from expanding its self-service machines, but it is clear that self-checkout is here to stay, with self-service kiosks and checkouts at fast-food restaurants, like McDonald’s, and clothing stores like UNIQLO growing exponentially.
Despite varied opinions and levels of friction, it is inevitable that as technology advances, self-checkouts will continue to evolve across the entire retail industry. Autonomous stores, such as Amazon’s Go Stores and Tesco’s GetGo Store, are beginning to crop up around the UK, which use advanced AI and technology that requires no checkout at all. Perhaps checking out at stores altogether will be a thing of the past.
Watch this space. Our grandparents may have told us stories of the petrol attendant, and maybe we will tell be telling our grandchildren about the friendly cashier who shared too many of their life stories.