Woolworths installs new self-serve checkouts

By Martin Vedris

SYDNEY: Woolworths today unveiled its new self-serve checkouts that allow customers to weigh and scan groceries themselves and pay with cash or card — they will also dispense petrol rewards vouchers, allow customers to buy mobile phone credit or even withdraw cash.

The official launch of the concept was at Woolworths Northbridge on Sydney’s North Shore this morning. The checkouts will be introduced into Woolworths and Safeway this month, with more than 70 stores expected to be online by the end of June. The company said that each store will feature approximately four self-serve checkouts.

Each of the checkouts offer animated instructions and voice prompts. However, while customers will be able top scan their own groceries, they won’t be able to ‘scam’ them — there are measures in place to deter shoplifting.

A Woolworths spokesperson said that the self-serve check outs will be staffed by one member of staff who will assist customers if required and also check bags if they notice anything suspicious. Also, the system weighs all items before and after scanning, so if an item is not scanned but placed into a bag, the system will alert staff.

Just like going through a normal check out though, dishonest customers could still attempt to shoplift by hiding items before going through the checkouts.

While shoplifting is always a concern even in staffed check-outs, the self-serve concept is aimed at convenience, according to a Woolworths company statement. Following trials and customer research, Woolworths invested in NCR FastLane Self Serve Checkouts to provide what they called ‘a convenient alternative to standard checkouts’.

“Self Serve Checkouts are a really convenient option for customers and we have had tremendously positive feedback from shoppers who have used them. We are delighted to now introduce them to more stores and more customers,” said Woolworths general manager Retail Operations, Marty Hamnett.

“In all the stores where we have trialed this technology, customers have really embraced it. It is now so popular that approximately 20 per cent of transactions go through the self serve checkouts. Of course they will never fully replace standard or express checkouts but they are certainly a handy alternative for the busy shopper,” Hamnett said.

The managing director of NCR Corporation in the South Pacific, Ross Checkley, said that his company’s research indicated that Australian consumers were ready for self serve checkouts.

“A recent survey conducted on behalf of NCR showed that 61 per cent of Australians said that they chose self-service in a retail environment because it was faster, whilst 55 per cent said it was more convenient,” said Checkley.

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