Self-checkout lines are generally faster than waiting for a cashier. This is likely in part due to the “15 items or less” request, but even so most people have a belief that self-checkout is the better checkout. That is unless they are forced to experience the “too many/few items in the bagging area” error. Ignoring the bane of grocery shopping existence, it is highly possible that eventually stores will move to completely self-checkout formats. This would lead to less point of the sale cost, less cost for employees, more space for stores, and other advantages. A downside could be that it would possibly lead to an increase in theft if implemented incorrectly.

Sujai Shriram
Sujai Shriram

Although this looks good from a seller’s perspective, this would also cut out an entire class of jobs, which could be largely detrimental to the economy as a whole. How long after department stores like Target converted to this style would a fast food restaurant like McDonalds decide they no longer needed cashiers either? Think about it, do you really need someone to be friendly (maybe try and upsell you something), or would you be perfectly happy just typing in what you wanted, paying for it, and grabbing it when it’s ready? Wait, isn’t that basically what you already do?

There are all sorts of possible solutions. Why not allow people to lease and pay for the point of sale machine, and pay the owner of each machine a tiny hourly rate such as $3/hr? Then people could eventually own multiple machines and be earning the same amount they were earning before without doing the work. The alternative is cutting out millions of jobs. The rich get richer, and the poor get poorer anyone?

On the other side of things are Sujai Shriram and CrossView, who are attempting to make the market better for buyers and sellers alike by increasing ease and consistency for all.