One supermarket is getting rid of all of its self-service checkout machines

One UK grocery chain is taking a risk by reintroducing fully-staffed checkouts in an era when self-service checkouts are the standard in supermarkets. Booths, an upmarket supermarket chain with 27 shops in Lancashire, Cumbria, Yorkshire, and Cheshire, has opted to phase out most of its self-service tills in favor of human connection and customer service.

Booths, branded the «Northern Waitrose» for its quality and customer service, has adopted an unusual stand on this issue. Customer feedback and a desire to deliver a more personalized shopping experience motivated the decision to eliminate self-service checkouts. Nigel Murray, Booths’ managing director, stressed the company’s dedication to customer satisfaction: «Our customers have told us over time that the self-scan machines that we have in our stores can be slow, unreliable, and impersonal.»

The decision to reinstate human cashiers in most Booths locations is consistent with the supermarket’s objectives of providing «high levels of warm, personal care.» In an era where automation and artificial intelligence are becoming more common in the retail industry, Booths is advocating for «actual intelligence» delivered by human cashiers.

Booths’ decision has ignited a heated debate over the advantages and disadvantages of self-service checkouts, particularly in light of the continuous problem of theft. According to the British Independent Merchants Association (BIRA), the present level of retail theft creates a substantial issue for merchants that rely on self-service tills, which may be an expensive risk. This calls into question the usefulness of automated checkout systems in discouraging theft as well as the overall cost-benefit analysis for merchants.

Booths’ decision to revert to fully staffed checkouts is not a one-size-fits-all choice, as they want to keep self-service tills at just two of their stores—those in the Lake District at Keswick and Windermere. These exclusions are based on significant consumer traffic in the stores, where the convenience of self-service may still be favored.

Booths, which has been in business since 1847, is a monument to the continuing value of personalized customer service. In an age of ease and automation, the grocery chain is emphasizing the human touch, recognizing the value of face-to-face contact in developing consumer loyalty.

Booths’ choice to promote «actual intelligence» above artificial intelligence may serve as a reminder of the ongoing relevance of personal interactions in the retail sector as the food business evolves. While self-service technology is convenient, it is critical to create a balance between automation and personal care in order to fulfill shoppers’ different wants and preferences.

The return of human cashiers to Booths’ stores demonstrates the company’s dedication to providing a shopping experience that goes beyond just transactions. It’s a declaration about the ongoing value of customer connections and the conviction that a warm, personal touch can distinguish a store in a competitive industry.