Self checkout, a growing retail trend in Tulsa

Monday, August 11th 2003, 12:00 am

By: News On 6

They are popping up all over, those computerized self-checkout systems. News on 6 consumer reporter Rick Wells visited the Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market on South Peoria to investigate their self-checkout system.

Most analysts say we'll always need live checkers, ATMs have been around for 30 years but we still have bank tellers. What self-checkout does is eliminate customer’s biggest complaint. "You don't have to wait for the people in front of you." Brandy Schoonover's a regular shopper at the Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market and loves the self-checkout.

Most people who use it do it because there's no waiting in line. Not everyone loves them. One guy started at self-checkout, but moved to a line with a checker. Too much technology perhaps. Buddy Green, Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market assistant manager, "These are here for convenience, for people who want to get a few items, get in and get out no interaction, fast as possible."

All the Neighborhood Markets have self-checkout, some Supercenters do, and it’s an antidote to the number one complaint in retailing, waiting in line to check out.

Over at Home Depot the story's the same. Pat Remmert a firefighter and part-time carpenter uses the self-checkout more and more. Wells, "What determines whether you do or don't, the length of the line?" Remmert, "the length of the line mainly, whether I'm in a hurry or not." He likes it he says, but is still getting use to the technology.

And it's getting more sophisticated at the grocery it asks for checker assistance for age appropriate items like tobacco and alcohol. And all these systems have some sort of shoplifter prevention system installed. That keeps you from putting more items on the belt that you have actually scanned.

Retailers tell us they have tested these systems, customers generally like them, the stores like 'em, so the rest of us ought to get ready for more of them.

The Home Depot in downtown Tulsa is the only one in Oklahoma with self-checkout, so far. The company says it'll be in about half its stores by the end of the year.

Self-checkout will not, companies say, result in the elimination of checkers; they hope it will eliminate waiting in long lines.

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