In 2009, Tesco’s opened their first self-service store, with no way to pay for your shopping other than doing a bit of D.I.Y. Since 2009, sales of self-service machines have boomed, creating a nation of self-serving customers. EUM Consultants Ltd based in Birmingham take a look at the impact these self-service machines are having.
It is not just self-service machines in supermarkets that are sweeping the nation; they are popping up in retail stores, train stations, as well as the obvious online options. Far more extreme versions are also coming into action such as vending machines that produce an entire meal, and robots that are being used to teach children. Mark McAlear, Managing Director of EUM Consultants says “Obviously I can see the idea behind it; however there are many improvements that need to be done to make it perfect in my opinion”
These self-service machines offer you, as the customer, a freedom of choice of how to pay; supposedly they also offer less queuing time and are quick and easy to use, Right? Not necessarily. “My local supermarket that is mostly made up of self-service machines seems to always have huge queues, and eventually when I do get to my till to scan my own purchases, all I hear is ‘unexpected item in bagging area’ and then have to wait for 5 minutes for the one member of staff who is covering twenty self-service tills to come over to me and allow me to continue” Says Mark McAlear, managing Director of EUM Consultants Ltd.
As more and more ways are developing every day as to how machines can do our jobs, the public are starting to worry that their jobs are severely at risk. “If you can go shopping, in ten different shops, and within an hour only speak to one member of staff, then something is severely wrong.” says Alex Tsmiboykas, sales director of EUM Consultants Ltd. With no evidence actually proving that these self-service tills are faster, and some evidence even going against it, what really is the point in self-service machines? Recent results even show that the queues in shops with more self –service tills and less staff run tills, were longer than those with less self-service tills and more staff run tills. However the supermarkets have come back stating that self-service machines do offer a freedom of choice for customers, and give staff more time to work around the store.
With supermarkets and stores that use self-service machines biting back, stating that self-service machines only add to the ways that customers can pay and staff at risk because of this, maybe there isn’t anything to worry about? “It still is, and for a long while will be a cause of concern for the public, for those working in these stores, and those looking for jobs. As with all new technologies, it will take a while for people to fully come around to new ideas” says Mark McAlear, Managing director of EUM Consultants.
Either way, self-service machines and all sorts of other ‘robots’ will be coming into use over the next decade, and unfortunately, the public will not have much choice in the matter. If you were looking for work and walk into a supermarket and see hundreds of machines doing a job you could be paid for, how would you feel?