NATIONAL NEWS

Customers have soured on self-checkout, and a new study says there’s proof

Jan 23, 2024, 12:01 PM

A customer at the self checkout of a Target store in the Queens borough of New York, US, on Tuesday...

A customer at the self checkout of a Target store in the Queens borough of New York, US, on Tuesday, May 16, 2023. From theft to scanning errors, retailers are running into headaches with self-checkout after rolling out the technology aggressively over the last decade. Mandatory Credit: Bing Guan/Bloomberg/Getty Images

New York (CNN) — From theft to scanning errors, retailers are running into headaches with self-checkout after rolling out the technology aggressively over the last decade.

Now, research finds another problem with self-checkout: fading customer loyalty.

A newly-released study by researchers at Drexel University published in the Journal of Business Research found that “regular checkout” – the kind featuring a human cashier – makes customers more loyal to a store and more likely to revisit in the future than self-checkout. The study comes as some companies remove self-checkout machines and others adjust their self-checkout operations.

Customers feel more rewarded by a store and “feel like they were treated more valuably” when using regular checkout because it involves less effort and cashiers handle the scanning, bagging and payment process, the Drexel researchers found.

Regular checkout also makes customers feel that they are receiving the service they are entitled to as customers of that store, the study found.

“The saved effort during the checkout process and the customers’ sense of entitlement explain the effect of checkout type on customer loyalty,” the study said.

Self-checkout, on the other hand, shifts the work to customers, making them feel less rewarded, the study found.

“Extra effort required to checkout and bag purchases and the expectation of being served by the store were negative consequences of self-checkout and decreased loyalty to the store,” according to the study.

The researchers conducted five studies and compared the two checkout methods using a shopping cart of 15 items.

The researchers suggest that retailers can increase store loyalty with self-checkout by convincing shoppers that the extra effort involved in self-checkout is worth a reward, such as increased savings.

Self-checkout woes

Self-service machines were first introduced to lower stores’ labor expenses by shifting the work of paid employees onto unpaid customers.

But retailers are rethinking self-checkout.

They have found that self-checkout leads to higher merchandise losses from customer errors, and more intentional shoplifting than when human cashiers are ringing up customers. One study of retailers in the United States, Britain and other European countries found that companies with self-checkout lanes and apps had a loss rate of about 4%, more than double the industry average.

Booths, a British supermarket chain, said it’s removing self-checkout stations in all but two of its 28 stores. Walmart removed self-checkout machines at some stores in New Mexico earlier this year. ShopRite pulled them at a Delaware store after customer complaints.

Five Below, the discount toy retailer, said that merchandise losses at stores with more self-checkout lanes was higher, and it will increase the number of staffed cash registers in new locations.

Dollar General said “it started to rely too much” on self-checkout in stores and was re-assigning workers to the front of its stores to ring customers up.

Other retailers are also making tweaks to self-checkout policies.

At a handful of stores, Target has restricted self-checkout to customers buying 10 items or fewer. Customers buying more than 10 items are required to use full-service lanes with cashiers.

Costco said it’s adding more staff in self-checkout areas after it found that non-members were sneaking in to use membership cards that didn’t belong to them at self-checkout.


The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2024 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

KSL 5 TV Live

National News

FILE - The 1200 building at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., is seen, Oct. 2...

Terry Spencer, Associated Press

Six years after the Parkland school massacre, the bloodstained building will finally be demolished

The demolition of the building where 17 people died in the 2018 Parkland school shooting is set to begin. Crews will begin tearing down the three-story building at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Friday.

2 hours ago

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (L) and U.S. President Joe Biden shake hands while meeting i...

Fatima Hussein, Associated Press

G7 leaders agree to lend Ukraine billions backed by Russia’s frozen assets. Here’s how it will work

Leaders of the Group of Seven wealthy democracies have agreed to engineer a $50 billion loan to help Ukraine in its fight for survival that would use interest earned on profits from Russia's frozen central bank assets as collateral.

2 hours ago

File - Workers install lighting on an "X" sign atop the company headquarters, formerly known as Twi...

Associated Press

What happened to the likes? X is now hiding which posts you like from other users

Social media platform X is now hiding your likes.

9 hours ago

Police say they arrested a man Friday in the investigation of a violent murder in West Valley City....

Teresa Crawford, Associated Press

3 deputies shot while responding to northern Illinois home, suspect also wounded, official says

Authorities say three sheriff’s deputies have been shot while responding to a northern Illinois home.

9 hours ago

A rare white buffalo calf, reportedly born in Yellowstone National Park's Lamar Valley, is shown on...

Amy Beth Hanson, The Associated Press

Reported birth of rare white buffalo calf in Yellowstone National Park fulfills Lakota prophecy

The reported birth of a rare white buffalo in Yellowstone National Park fulfills a Lakota prophecy that portends better times, according to members of the American Indian tribe who cautioned that it’s also a signal that more must be done to protect the earth and its animals.

10 hours ago

A star athlete, Hilton Crawford appeared many times in the South Park High School yearbook....

Ben Kuebrich, KSL Podcasts

‘Ransom: Position of Trust’: Suspected kidnapper had red flags in police record

What drove a “family friend” to kidnap a 12-year-old boy? Hilton Crawford was a police officer, a trusted coach and pillar of the community.

12 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Photo courtesy of Artists of Ballet West...

Ballet West

The rising demand for ballet tickets: why they’re harder to get

Ballet West’s box office is experiencing demand they’ve never seen before, leaving many interested patrons unable to secure tickets they want.

Electrician repairing ceiling fan with lamps indoors...

Lighting Design

Stay cool this summer with ceiling fans

When used correctly, ceiling fans help circulate cool and warm air. They can also help you save on utilities.

Side view at diverse group of children sitting in row at school classroom and using laptops...

PC Laptops

5 internet safety tips for kids

Read these tips about internet safety for kids so that your children can use this tool for learning and discovery in positive ways.

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why printer security should be top of mind for your business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light up your home with these top lighting trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for hassle-free computer repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Customers have soured on self-checkout, and a new study says there’s proof