Self-serve. Like it or not.

Back in Nashua, NH, my 24 hour Home Depot has eight or ten checkouts with cashiers, along with a couple of self-serve checkouts. The self-serve checkouts were rarely used.

The Home Depot near me in Waterloo, Canada, has six checkouts with cashiers, and four or six self-serve checkouts. Yesterday I went there to buy something only to find long lines for the only two cashiers, and only one or two people at the self-serve stations.

Instead, as usually happens, other cashiers offer to help you self checkout. They end up scanning the items, bagging them, and swiping my debit card, leaving me only to enter my PIN number. Just like I would at a checkout with a cash register.

Now I’m sure that the use of self-checkout by the cashier is being tallied by some bean counter as successful self-serve use. But if the marketing people from Home Depot took the time to actually watch what customers do they might actually get a dose of reality.

These stores want you to think that self-serve checkouts are there for the convenience of the customers, when in reality they are intended to reduce staffing costs for the store. Why would a customer want to do more work themselves when the price is the same either way? The cost of the service is included in the price.

And in the end they do neither. Customer satisfaction is decreased because they don’t want to checkout themselves, and are forced to wait longer for service, and cashiers still do the work in the end.

Merely spending an hour at Home Depot on a Saturday afternoon is all the research you need to know that. And in the end I just left my purchase and walked out.


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