Imagine going to a grocery store with no cashiers! Oh, wait a minute, it seems like we already have that sometimes. Let me rephrase it. Imagine going to a grocery store with no check outs?
That may well be the store of the not-too-distant future, if a trial run at an Oakville, Ont. grocery store proves successful.
The Sobeys chain has introduced their so called “smart carts” at the store to see how people take to them and how they impact the operation of the store, for good or not.
The carts will allow customers to avoid the check outs entirely and to complete their shopping experience totally from the cart. The carts have a scanner on board which will read the product code on the item, and which can also be used to weigh an item like fresh produce.
There is also a credit-debit machine attached by which payment can be made. Thus, the customer simply walks through the store, selecting the items desires, scanning them and putting them into the cart. Then entering the payment card and off they go. No human interaction and most importantly no lineups.
For those who are worried about the potential loss of jobs if cashiers are no longer needed, a Sobeys representative says they are not planning any layoffs because of the new technology. Staff will simply be reassigned to new responsibilities giving them more time to, Sobeys says, “interact with customers and answer questions.”
On the downside, it will now fall to the customer to bag or box their order by themselves, not just bring a reusable bag with them.
And there is one other potential glitch to the so-called smart carts. Sobeys does not say anything about them actually being able to get all four wheels to work together.
Frank Likely is a retired Anglican minister who lives in Springhill.