Self-checkout machines accept jobs from people

The digital pay machines are spreading inexorably. More than half of the 614 Migros supermarkets and over a third of the 908 Coop supermarkets now have self-scanning or self-check-out tills. In the last two years alone, the retail giants Migros and Coop have each equipped more than 100 branches with the new technology.

Manor, on the other hand, already has self-check-out tills in all 32 food markets. According to Manor spokeswoman Sofia Conraths, the system of self-scanning with a hand scanner is available in some larger markets.

The retailer Spar does not yet have any automatic tills in use. However, the technology is being tested for new markets, says Spar spokeswoman Silvia Manser. In the Volg stores, on the other hand, there are only human-operated tills. In the non-food trade, self-payment is still a rarity - apart from the Ikea furniture store, which has self-check-out tills in all nine branches across the country.

The development is clear: the consumer takes over the job of the cashier.

Served checkouts - a customer need

No retailer wants to do without cashiers altogether. Migros spokesman Patrick Stöppel emphasizes: "Since serviced checkouts are a great customer requirement, they will also be available in all sales outlets in the future." But nobody denies that fewer cashiers are needed. "Fewer cashiers will be needed in the future, but not fewer employees," says the Migros spokesman.

The cash-free future is already a reality here

While self-check-out is currently getting big in this country, US retailers are already further. Since January, customers in Seattle (USA) have been able to shop on Amazon Go without paying at a checkout. At the entrance they log in with an app and are then tracked by cameras and other sensors. They place the selected goods in the virtual shopping cart. When leaving the store, the customer's Amazon account is then billed. Amazon is said to be planning up to 3,000 more stores in the US. In Europe, the electronics chain Saturn is testing cashierless shops, but customers have to scan the goods themselves. (jfr)

Specifically: cashiers take on other jobs. "A cashier already has an advisory role and takes on rotations in customer service or in a flower department," says Stöppel. It sounds similar with the Coop spokeswoman: "In shops with check-out tills, we employ no fewer staff than before the tills were introduced."

Paying yourself doesn't get any faster

According to a survey by the consulting firm Deloitte, 69 percent of Swiss consumers now use self-scanning or self-check-out tills when shopping for groceries. Deloitte economist Luc Zobrist says: "We assume that self-scanning and self-check-out will continue to gain in importance." He also has no doubts that the move from cash registers to machines will reduce the number of cashiers in the future.

Paradox: It cannot be proven that customers are faster with self-check-out and scanning than at the classic checkout, Zobrist knows. Nevertheless, according to a Deloitte survey, 70 percent of customers are of the opinion that they save time. Because customers can determine the duration of the payment process themselves when they check out themselves, they would probably have the feeling of being faster.

No digitization sacrifices

Zobrist sees the end of the classic cashier as a good example of the structural change that digitization brings with it: "Digitization not only leads to more new, but also more exciting, varied, less physically strenuous jobs."

Sven Sievin, Director of Education for Retail Trade Switzerland (BDS), agrees that the job of retail trade has not become less attractive due to the new technologies. On the contrary, the tasks have become more complex and demanding and thus also more attractive.

Sievin does not find it problematic that young employees have to monitor customers during self-check-out and scanning. The task of preventing and uncovering theft has always been the task of the apprentices in the company.

These jobs will also be eliminated

Automation will fundamentally revolutionize the Swiss labor market. According to a study by management consultancy McKinsey, almost 1.2 million jobs in this country will fall victim to automation by 2030. Particularly affected: retail cashiers, commercial clerks, butchers, receptionists, postal workers, accountants and laboratory technicians. At the same time, however, the study expects that the new technologies will create 800,000 to one million new jobs. Most jobs could be in healthcare, technical and professional services. According to McKinsey experts, the majority of those whose jobs could be lost due to digitization can be retrained. According to the authors of the study, many companies are well positioned when it comes to mastering digital transformation. (zas)

Published: October 13, 2018, 12:06 am
Last updated: October 24, 2018, 9:27 a.m.