Hitting The Target With Self-Checkout

About a week ago, I was at an event sponsored by Focus Ministries. We were in small groups discussing discipleship and evangelism. An older man in our group mentioned the importance of building rapport and engaging with the supermarket cashier. Although I usually listen more than speak during these discussions, I couldn’t help myself.

“How are we supposed to do this when all of us are using self-checkout?,” I questioned, only half joking.

Well, if Target’s new policy catches on with the grocery industry, perhaps I should perfect my small talk with cashiers.

Very rarely does Target get things right but in this situation they might have.

On St. Patrick’s Day, Target implemented a “10 items or less” rule for its self-checkout lanes. If you fall within the quota you can use self-checkout but if you have 11 items or more you must use a traditional checkout lane with an actual human being scanning your haul.

Target doesn’t get a lot right, but I have to hand it to them on this one. Although I use self-checkout a lot when I have more than 10 items, I understand the policy.

Let’s be honest, the self-checkout concept was intended to speed things along for people with a light grocery cart. It was basically Express Lane 2.0. But as people got more and more comfortable with self-checkout, they naturally started to use it at the conclusion of their once-per-week Sunday grocery outing.

This defeats the purpose because it removes all efficiency from self-checkout. It really is tough to scan a full cart by yourself without slowing down the process by paging the self-checkout employee for one reason or the other. Need your produce properly scanned? Or your ID checked for alcohol? Or the “wait for assistance” prompt cleared? Or assistance with inserting that coupon? Or one of the hundred different things you need to bother that poor solitary employee with? Yep, you aren’t scanning 30 items without their help.

For me personally? I suck so much time at the self-checkout because my kids demand that they “help” scan the items. Yes, Sloan and Beau are well-intentioned but my patience always dwindles when my 4-year-old takes an eternity to scan a loaf of bread. To now have the excuse to visit a traditional lane because we have too many items is very much appreciated.

A dozen years ago I wrote a blog post about self-checkout and I concluded that the concept had a bright future. I think my prediction proved correct but tweaks are always needed. I hope other outlets follow the lead of Target. Don’t Blink.

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