Make Self-Service Checkouts Work Faster

Make Self-Service Checkouts Work Faster

Back in May we ran a post discussing tactics for making self-service checkouts work better, which stirred up a fair bit of debate. Gizmodo has a similarly-themed guest post from a Woolworths staffer, offering tips on how to make your self-service journey speedier.The tips are all worth following, though they do miss my personal favourite: if you have a trolley full of goods, skip self-service and head straight for a regular checkout — that makes life easier for everyone. Got any extra wisdom to impart? We’re all ears in the comments.

5 Insider Tips For Supermarket Self-Serve Checkouts [Gizmodo]


    • @Djankz: I’ve found that the Woolies checkout operators have a disconcerting tendency to pack heavy items like canned food and bottles of juice or soft drink in with breakables/soft items like bread, eggs, fruit and vegetables. So that’s why I use self-checkout – so that my shopping gets packed properly and saves me time in rearranging my shopping bags to make sure nothing gets squished when it shouldn’t.

    • Why not? I find them easier than sitting in a line and waiting for someone to scan a minimal amount of items and ask my payment method. In most times I beat the voice over of the self serve machine in any option it asks me.

      If there is something i think the machine will trip up on, ill just go to a person rather than try the machine though. Asking for assistance is annoying and I’ve had a few occasions that the person doesn’t know what they are doing…

      Also, don’t go there with a full trolley of groceries, you’re better off going to a usual register. Also if you’re one of those people who open a drink in store then pay for it. You’ll break the weight registration (even doing that annoys me).

  • If you’re paying with cash, you don’t have to choose your payment method. Just start feeding money in and it selects the right option.

    Sure, it only saves you a second, but those machines are very frustrating. Every second I don’t spend with them is a bonus.

  • Particularly unnerving when the attendant is right behind you and you make a mistake, which is what normally happens to me, then the bloody thing starts yelling at you, both making you feel like a fool or a thief!!

  • There is a discount at the self-service machines, it’s just a “self-service” discount.

    For example, buying apples: Go for your favourite kind, whatever the cost, then just put them through as the cheapest variety.

    You can get more adventurous, had some friends buy a few kilos of good quality beef and put it through as mushrooms. Would have easily saved $15/kg, maybe more.

  • A few things that make it that bit quicker …

    * You don’t have to press the Start button – just scan your first item from the front screen

    * If you want to take a bag off you can but wait until the lights on the scanner go green. This means the security scale has accepted your last weight and won’t chuck a wobbly if you go to take the bags off.

    * If you accidentally put the wrong item down you can put the right item down but you only get 2 goes at it before the attendant is called

    * Most of them now give you the option if you want to print a receipt or not. If you in a hurry and don’t need the docket press “No” and your on your way

    * place your fruit and veg on the scale, then go into the fruit and veg screen to select what it is. I alwasy forget and go into the screen first, press the item and the have to be told to put my items on the scale…

    * and agree ….. if you have a big trolley load it is quicker to go through the normal lane

  • To all the people bitching about wanting a discount for using them, go away. Self serve is an OPTION, you do not have to use it. Believe it or not, they have *created* jobs in supermarkets, not taken them away. They require permanent staffing for self serve areas, and think about all those NCR technicians, I can promise you, they have created a lot of jobs in that field. (employee of Woolworths, opinions are mine, not those of my company)

    • Not true about having a choice – I was at a big w around 6pm and my only option was the self checkout option. If I wanted to get anything, I had to use it.

      I doubt that they create more jobs – you only need one person to supervise 6 self checkouts, instead of the 2-3 people you would have on the checkouts. Even if they employ a lot more technicians, what happens to the people who need unskilled work?

      • Just so you know for next time, they must always provide a register if requested by a customer. When it quietens down, registers are generally closed off so that jobs can be done, but registers must always be made available if requested, I assume this is what happened in your situation.
        Generally staffing is not effected by self serve. At night time, our store actually has one more person on due to self serve, when we didn’t have it, there was one less person. 😉

        • I have also seen on plenty of occasions where ther is either one or no human operated checkout in operation at Woolies.

          And yeah, having one open chekout does give you the option, but on plenty of occasions you see 4 or 5 people with trolleys waiting for the single human operated checkout for ages because they don’t want to use the automated ones.

          If you seriously think these aren’t a method to reduce staff hours in the long run you are quite short sighted and very naive.

          Also, good luck finding a person actually willing to open a register if you want to use a human checkout. Sounds good in theory, I’m sure it works like shit in the real world.

  • If i have a full or more than half full trolley with me, i go to the checkout, if im at the other end of the isles, away from the self serve, i generally can’t be bothered to go all the way to that place, so just get on a checkout.

    If you want speedy checkout service, shop at Aldi LOL!

  • Also doesn’t hurt to make a quick bit of small talk with the attendants. They can give you tips on which machines have fussy scales and readers, not to mention that they seem to be grateful for a bit of human contact.

  • Part of the price charged for an item helps to provide the all of the services that a store provides (whether or not the price increase is reasonable is another debate entirely). I don’t expect a discount because I never use parcel-pickup or lay-buy services, that would be unreasonable.

  • I work at self check out from time to time at Coles. Here’s a few of tips. If you’re buying fruit or vegetables that are priced on quantity instead of weight (eg 4 kiwis for $2) put all the items in the bagging area at the same time. Don’t put them in one by one. The machine detects the quantity as 1 item (so if you have 5 kiwis instead of 4 the machine won’t know.)
    Please do not press the ‘i don’t want to bag item’ option unless you don’t want to put stuff in the area.
    Sometimes you can just jiggle the bag to make sure it registers the weight. Look around, is something leaning on any metal areas of the bagging area? Are any of your items on the edge of the machine? Sometimes people are leaning on the bag handle and it stuffs the machine. I tell them to move their hands and it works again.
    You can take bags off when the lights are green. the lights will turn red, wait for the ‘I removed item or bag’ option and press it.
    The machines usually can count the coins themselves if you put them all in. But if you put 20 5 cent coins altogether it’ll probably stuff up.
    I know some workers are rude (self check out is really annoying) but there are some nice workers. Try listening to them. Complaining about the machine while you did something wrong while the operator tries to give you advice is annoying.
    If you have kids don’t let them climb on the machines. Don’t let them touch the bagging area. Usually I see people complaining about the machine not working and their kids are sitting on the bagging area.

  • The whole “bagging area” stuff drives me nuts, def a poor user experience.

    “item removed from the bagging area” yeah, to make room for the next item. sooo frustrating to use.

  • If you have multiple items of the same sort (say, 6 cases containing 12 cans of tuna each), it is quicker to go to a clerk-based line than self-serve. The clerk can scan one can of tuna and then tell the register “give me 72 of those, thanks”, and then just move the stack of boxes past the register. Whereas you will stand there forever: pick up can, scan, put down can, pick up next can, scan, etc.

  • Amanda tells us if you want to take a bag off you can but wait until the lights go green.
    Jenny says you can take bags off when the lights are green but she adds the lights will turn red,wait for the “i removed item or bag”option and press it.Is this necessary?

    • Waiting for the “I removed…” option is not necessary. In fact, if it does come up you’ve done something wrong. Pressing that button requires the attendant to come to your machine and approve it.

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