Saturday, January 10, 2015

Self-checkouts and the perception of benefits

I'm a tech lover, but even I can't stand self checkouts. The grocery stores got that one all wrong. They thought we wanted a way to avoid standing in lines with cashiers and so they gave us a way to do it ourselves. That's not what we want, as evidenced by the empty self-checkout lines at grocery stores across the country.

What we want is a better way to checkout. If you are going to allow me to self-checkout, why not let me scan the items as I put them in my cart, pay with Apple Pay and walk straight out when I'm done?

Because it's not about reality - it's about perception. Self-checkouts give us the perception that there is a better way. I can't complain about long lines, because it's not the store's fault you have to wait. You can always go do it yourself.

Cover-up perceptions only pacify us for a little while and then we realize that the system is still broken. Built into these cover-ups is the ability for real innovation. Band-aids are markers for a system that can use help.

While you're waiting in line next time, figure out a better way to run a checkout system in a busy grocery store. Your idea will surely be better than what's already in place.