British supermarket chain Booths is removing nearly all of its self-checkout kiosks at stores in response to customer feedback.
Booths, an upscale grocery store chain that has most of its 28 locations in northern England, is moving against the self-checkout trend. The two largest grocery chains in the U.K., Tesco and Sainsbury’s, have installed thousands of self-checkouts while reducing the number of staffed checkouts.
Booths managing director Nigel Murray told the BBC, “We like to talk to people and we’re really proud that we’re moving largely to a place where our customers are served by people, by human beings, so rather than artificial intelligence, we’re going for actual intelligence.”
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Murray told the outlet that customers found Booths self-scan machines to be slow and unreliable as well as impersonal.
“We’re not great fans of self-checkouts,” Murray added in comments to The Grocer, a trade publication based in the U.K. “We pride ourselves on great customer service and you can’t do that through a robot.”
He explained to The Grocer that Booths first installed self-checkouts in its stores six years ago as a means of promoting efficiency and controlling labor costs, but that customers didn’t enjoy having to wait for their ID to be validated by a staffer when purchasing alcohol and that there were challenges with checking out produce items using the kiosks.
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While Booths is eliminating most of its self-checkout lanes, the company is keeping them at two of its busiest stores located in the Lake District, which can be inundated with tourists during the summer months.
The move away from self-checkout lanes by Booths comes as major U.S. retailers like Walmart and Wegmans reevaluate their use of the kiosks.
Walmart recently removed self-checkout lanes from several stores in Albuquerque, New Mexico, amid losses due to theft and testing with employee-assisted self-checkout kiosks, according to Insider.
Wegmans told the New York Times that it backed off a popular self-checkout app because “the losses we are experiencing prevent us from continuing to make it available in its current state.”
Reuters contributed to this report.
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