How Walmart, Costco, and Dollar General Are Slashing Self-Checkout
Big-name retailers have made changes in response to "shrink" and customer feedback.
Love it or hate it, self-checkout has become a mainstay at big-name retailers. For those in the "love it" camp, the process offers the benefit of being able to quickly scan and bag without having to interact with others. But for those on the "hate it" side—which is ever-growing—the process is tedious, with one missed scan potentially landing you with a theft accusation. Lately, stores have caught on to the anti-self-checkout movement, following boycott threats as well as their own "shrink" (loss of inventory that could be tied to theft)—and they're now taking action. Read on to find out how big names like Walmart, Costco, and Dollar General are slashing self-checkout.
Dollar General is pulling back on self-service options.
During a Dec. 7 earnings call, Dollar General CEO Todd Vasos stated that the company started to "rely too much this year on self-checkout" in stores.
"We should be using self-checkout as a secondary checkout vehicle, not a primary," Vasos said.
While Dollar General won't be doing away with self-checkout entirely, they will be utilizing new strategies at the registers.
Additional staff will be allocated to the front end of stores.
Vasos stated that more employees will be present at the front of the store, explaining that self-checkout cannot replace in-person interactions.
"We plan to increase the employee presence at the front end of our stores and in particular, the checkout area," he said on yesterday's call. "While self-checkout has contributed to the convenient proposition for our customers in certain stores, it does not reduce the importance of a friendly, helpful employee who is there to greet customers and assist while the checkout process is happening."
Vasos also said that Dollar General has already started by "allocating more labor to front-end activities," as well as "clearly communicating our expectations around the visible presence of an associate at the front of our stores."
The CEO further addressed shrink, noting that having increased employee presence near the registers "helps the shrink line because you've got somebody at the front end of the store that is always there to monitor."
Costco recently made some changes as well.
Over the summer, self-checkout caused headaches for Costco, with some shoppers using the self-service option as a workaround for Costco's membership program.
As a Costco spokesperson previously told Best Life, membership cards are non-transferrable, yet non-members were reportedly "using membership cards that do not belong to them" at self-checkout. The company added that members are always asked to present their membership cards with photos at the register, but this was not previously the case at self-checkout, prompting Costco to reinforce its existing policy.
"We don't feel it's right that non members receive the same benefits and pricing as our members," the spokesperson said. "As we already ask for the membership card at checkout, we are now asking to see their membership card with their photo at our self-service checkout registers."
Walmart pulled back in one state.
Walmart is another retailer addressing issues with self-checkout. Previously, the big-box store announced plans to add more staff to self-service areas, even having them scan entire orders, Business Insider reported. Taking things a step further, Walmart did away with self-checkout lanes entirely at at least three stores in Albuquerque, New Mexico, this fall.
"We continually look at ways to provide our customers with the best shopping experience and that includes adjusting the checkout area in stores," Walmart spokesperson Josh Havens told the outlet in September.
The retailer didn't share details on shoplifting or whether that impacted the decision, but in general, Walmart shoppers and employees have been vocal about how self-checkout enables shoplifters and thieves, per Business Insider.