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Pick n pay self-service tills on trial

By Danielle van Wyk

Pick n Pay have just launched the first self-service check out till at their Observatory branch as part of a trial period.

The self-service till will allow people to scan, check out and pay for their items by themselves, eliminating the cashier’s role. Self-service tills have been commonly used abroad in the United States and the United Kingdom to name a few places. They were first installed in a New York supermarket in 1992, according to the Guardian, and now Pick n Pay are the first supermarket to have them on trial in South Africa.

“We are always looking at new ways to help our customers by making their shopping trip easier and more convenient.  We are testing self-service checkouts in one store, Observatory, to see if it can save customers time at the till, particularly those in a hurry and shopping for just a few items,” stated David North, Pick n Pay’s group executive of strategy and corporate affairs.

The news received mixed reactions from social media users, as some welcomed the new innovative technology, while others felt it may lead to mass job cuts. 

Unions like Cosatu were of a similar opinion as they opposed the idea in the name of job creation, claiming that this technology would rob already financially struggling people of honest jobs.

Pick n Pay responded to this concern, as North added: “The machines will operate in addition to the traditional check-out counters where cashiers will still be employed.”

"We see it as an extra, additional service which would complement rather than replace the traditional checkouts. Staff are required to monitor self-service checkouts and there is no impact on employment.  Pick n Pay is increasing, not cutting jobs, and is committed to creating 5,000 new jobs each year."

Another concern was that of safety. Consumers took to social media to air concerns about how the process was to be regulated and managed in store to lower the risk of crime related incidents while using these tills.

Crime is a problem to consider. In the UK a report by the University of Leicester found that the self-service till is criminalising normally honest customers as the technology makes it so easy to do so. The tills also cause frustration when items can’t be scanned properly and to save time people have been known not to scan items if the scanners aren’t recognising goods. So while shops believe

For now the only Pick n Pay branch to trial a self-service till is the one in Observatory. The brand’s management further explained that the trial period may take up to six months to produce any valuable and reliable consumer insights into viability of such a venture.

The first performance data results will be drawn and assessed in four weeks’ time.

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