Know before you go, that you'll be doing the work
A couple of weeks ago, I stopped into the Walmart Supercenter on Dundee Avenue in Carpentersville to pick up a few things. When I went to check out, I had to stop and get my bearings as I thought I was at the wrong end of the store, as I couldn't see any open lanes or cashiers.
Turns out, I wasn't. Walmart, this particular one, at least, has indeed instituted a one-hundred-percent, self-checkout policy.
After further investigation, I discovered that Walmarts all over the country are going this route. Officials say that self-checkouts should minimize the need for "human interaction," thereby reducing the risk of catching the virus.
Walmart's touch-free system is called Walmart Pay (makes sense). According to PYMNTS.com, the system will enhance customers' ability to shop online by rolling a number of apps into one central Walmart app.
Of course, the institution of Walmart Pay begs the question, "What happens to the cashiers? Do they lose their jobs?"
According to the company's website, at some stores, cashiers are transitioning into new roles called "Hosts." Basically, a Host's task is to help customers navigate the new system without major screw-ups. It may be 2021, but not everyone is adept at checking themselves out. You know what I'm talking about:
"Please remove item from baggage area." HUH??
Let's say a customer is not down with doing their own checking and bagging. A Host will perform that function for them, while also ensuring that the flow of other customers through the self-checkout area moves seamlessly. No doubt it's a thankless gig as I'm certain that customers lash out because they don't know what the hell they're doing.
Even though Walmart Pay is supposed to cut down on human interaction, it's not quite as "cold" as one might think, according to a company executive.
"By nature, individual lanes make the checkout experience transactional, but being face-to-face, the interaction becomes a relationship. We want to make it a personal experience."
John Crecelius, Senior Vice President of Walmart U.S. Innovations Development
"A relationship." I suppose time will tell just what kind of relationship. Hopefully, it works out and Walmart employees are able to hold onto their livelihoods.
Finally, as I stood, relatively clueless in my local store and finally set eyes on the huge self-service area, I was struck by how "futuristic" it all looked.
I obediently got in line and waited for my turn up at-bat. I'm happy to say that, but for a minor glitch that was swiftly cleared up by the helpful Host--who didn't make me feel like an idiot--I checked out my purchases without incident.
it will be interesting to see how this all flies, in other stores as well, as time goes on.
Oh, one more thing: When I asked the security guard at the Carpentersville Walmart why they switched to self-checkout, he told me it was to "cut down on theft." I guess the takeaway is "less humans, less theft." Make of that what you will.
Thanks for reading, and, as always, your thoughts are welcome and appreciated.