Blog for Retail
A quick history of self-checkout

A quick history of self-checkout

In the early 1990s Dr. Howard Schneider developed the first retail self-checkout system called “the service robot” and it soon spread across America by 2003. Self-checkouts are known to have solved the service dilemma and created a history of automation in grocery stores. 

What are these self-checkouts?

A self-checkout system is a faster aid to consumers for a better experience. Rather than waiting in long queues, the users can simply scan the barcode and pay for their purchases without any help from the store employees. The self-checkouts inculcate “do-it-yourself”. 

First, it is important to understand the need for self-checkouts which led to its innovation. The ubiquitous shopping carts, customers perusing aisles of products, and the lanes of checkout machines would be unimaginable at the time. Retailers tell us that self-checkouts are all about providing more choice, convenience and speed. A customer would hand over a list of items needed and the clerk would return after some time, with products at the counter. The clerk would weigh, package, calculate the price of goods as well through weighing tools. Subsequently, the counters were replaced with a bunch of baskets and now the consumers could collect the products in them. These intended to wait in queues for the payment. With the new layout of the grocery store and the introduction of barcode scanning, the salesperson-customer relationship has been eliminated, product choices have been expanded and efficiency has been improved.

The first checkout machines were invented in the 1990s considered cost and time saving compared to manned checkout lanes. They allowed one of the employees to supervise kiosks for any breakdown or malfunctioning. Earlier an employee needed to store every product in his mind but now it has all become easier, just through scanning barcodes. 

Conclusion: A journey of self-checkouts will be shared and a small surprise at the end of the series. 


Image credits: QikServe, Australian food timeline, Financial Times

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