How does this help your customers?

One thing I’ve noticed during this year’s UK visit is the virulent spread of supermarket self-service areas. They are horrible!

I understand why supermarkets like these things – they save money. I can’t help but think they are shooting themselves in the foot. At the very least, they could do a lot to improve the current set ups.

Both Tesco’s and Sainsbury’s self-service areas are usually dirty and untidy – they just look shabby.

The queues of shoppers seem longer than the days of having actual cashiers, as the self-service ‘things’ don’t seem to work very well. They are a complete faff, as you try to fiddle with your change, fill a plastic bag, rescan every item twenty times and strain to listen to the instructions being whispered by Scottish lady who lives inside the machines.

What’s the point? They aren’t more convenient, they cause longer queues and they look awful. I think they are a major disincentive to shop there.

Surely Sainsbury’s and Tesco should be looking to employ some more local people? I appreciate that the business is run for its shareholders, the market rules, etc, etc.

Surely there’s a bit more to consider than a simple human vs machine cost-benefit analysis?

Both brands get very bad publicity every time one of their smaller stores opens up on a highstreet and puts the other ‘traidtional’ retailers out of business. Each of these openings is accompanied by press releases in the local paper telling us that the new store will serve the community and so on. Surely it’d be good PR to show some visible results of how you care about the community by actually employing a few people to work the till instead of making us all do the job ourselves? I’m sure the savings can’t amount to much more than a penny of a can of baked beans. I’d rather pay a miniscule amount extra for my pint of milk and be served by a human being.

I am hoping that this self-service approach goes the way of many call centres that were outsourced in a hurry a few years ago and which are now being brought back to the UK. I just feel it’s better business to have some real people in the shop.

At the very least, despite lowering both companies’ vast profits by a minimal margin, shopping there would be a less soulless experience. I am not saying that shopping at either retailer was ever a culture filled joyous occasion, but making it even worse than it was isn’t something I welcome.

While I am at it, it would be nice if Costa, Starbucks and other coffee shops and cafes occasionally swept the floor and cleand the tables. Lots of these places seem to turn into rubbish strewn wastelands by the early afternoon. Why do people pay five quid for a coffee and then put up with having to drink it whilst surrounded by the detritus left by the last fifty customers?

Hmmph. Perhaps I have lived in Dubai too long and am turning into a spoilt customer, but I can’t help thinking that having someone occasionally clear up might be better for business.


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