If you greet new technology with trepidation, this is a warning.
If you embrace it, this probably is welcome news.
Either way, get ready for more self-scan checkouts.
You can already find these automated checkout stations at Home Depot, Cub Foods and some Walmarts where customers scan their own purchases and insert cash or credit cards to pay for them.
By the end of the month, Super One Foods will have four at its West Duluth store, followed by its Superior store and probably its store near Miller Hill Mall.
“It adds a service for the customer,” says Bob Halvorson, vice president of operations for Miner’s Inc., which owns Super One stores. “It gives people an option for faster checkout.”
Super One already has four self checkouts at its Kenwood store.
“What we’re finding in Kenwood is that a lot of customers love it and prefer to go in there to use the self-scan,” he says. When lines get long, it gives customers an opportunity for a quick checkout, especially with smaller orders, he says.
At Super One stores that have the the self checkouts, 17 to 20 percent of customers are using them, according to Halvorson.
While that seems high, over at Cub Foods in Duluth on a recent afternoon, its self checkout stations saw steady use, as a staff person stood nearby to help.
The automated system talked customers through the process, including “Insert cash” and reminders to “Please take your change” and concluding with a “Thank you for using the fastlane.”
One man who had fresh produce to weigh struggled a bit with the extra steps involved, but the process appeared to go smoothly for most.
Among them was Sunny Peterson of Duluth, a regular user of self checkouts at stores that have them.
“I just use them if I’m doing a quick run, if it’s a quick five or six things,” she said.
While the systems have been around since the 1990s, they just started appearing in the Northland in recent years. When they did, Peterson didn’t hesitate. She started using them right away.
“I’m not intimidated,” she said. “I like it. It makes it handy for quick jobs.”
She feels badly about one thing, however. She’s heard they’re replacing cashiers.
After all, two lanes of self checkouts (with two stations in each lane) replaces two conventional lanes with human cashiers.
But Halvorson says the automated systems won’t replace cashiers.
“We still have the same amount of cashiers,” he says. “If we have 10 cashiers scheduled before, we still have 10 cashiers.”