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Tracy West: Retail commentator
07 June, 2018

A recent survey of 1,000 consumers across the UK (undertaken by SOTI who say they are the world's most trusted provider of mobile and Internet of Things device management systems in the world), found that 80% of people would be 'comfortable' in a retail setting where only self-checkout tills were available. Immediately, upon reading this, I thought those 1,000 consumers would have to be younger people but apparently respondents ranged from 18 to 60-years old.

Now, I don't mind a bit of new technology (if it works) but I'm afraid I'm firmly in the 20% camp. Firstly, I'm left-handed and all these self-service tills are made for right-handed people. Being left-handed I always approach a self-service till from the wrong way and, even when I am corrected, end up being so cack-handed that not everything scans and most of my shopping is deemed to be an 'unexpected item in the bagging area'.

Here, right near to the Forecourt Trader offices, the M&S Simply Food at the motorway services has just gone all 'self checkout'. However, they do still have a couple of manned tills so I'm in luck.

The other thing about self-service tills is the losses incurred by people accidentally, or otherwise, forgetting to scan items or mistaking an avocado for a carrot! There was a story all over the news recently about people switching labels or deliberately putting in the wrong item in order to pay less. Emmeline Taylor, a senior lecturer in criminology at City University of London, has been working with retailers to help them reduce shoplifting. When doing this, one retailer found that they had sold more carrots than they'd ever even had in stock and that was because people were putting more expensive fresh produce through the till system but submitting them as carrots and therefore paying a lower price. Rather worryingly, Ms Taylor said some people did this sort of thing so often that they didn't consider it a crime while others see it more as a game. It all sounds rather amusing until you realise it's really catching on and theft from unmanned tills has doubled in the past few years. So, if you're considering self-service tills, you've been warned!


Following a deal agreed with Harvest Energy, do you think it will be good to see the Total brand returning to UK forecourts?