The Roche Bros. in West Roxbury is gearing up for self-service checkout.
Remember when they used to walk your groceries out to your car?
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Roche Bros replaced the 12 items or less fewer lanes at the Wellesley store with self-checkout a few years ago (when my commute often took me through there). The kiosks were ridiculously sensitive and would constantly complain about "unexpected item in bagging area", requiring the attendant to come over and reset the machine. I wrote a letter to the store manager telling them that even Stop & Shop can get this to work smoothly, and if your user experience is worse than Stop & Shop's, You Are Doing It Wrong.
Good luck West Roxbury.
Sure, they'll save not having to pay a couple of checkers, but they'll still have to post someone there to disable the machines when they throw errors and accept coupons. A few months after that they'll see how much stuff gets stolen.
And no, this has nothing to do with West Roxbury, it's the nature of self checkout. The Star/Shaws/Whateverthefuck on Comm Ave had self checkout for a while and now it's a special section just for n items of fewer fenced in with impulse buys. Same with the Shaws in Eastie.
But hey, everybody's gotta reinvent the wheel.
The CVS in the Bertucci's plaza had self-checkout for less than a year and then yanked them. And that's in West Roxbury / South Brookline
I think you must not have been to the Star on Comm Ave in some time - they did remove the self-check registers for a while, but they put them back again over a year ago.
The new layout is pretty terrible for social distancing, which annoys me, and they refuse to do what other stores with similarly laid out self-checks have done to mitigate that problem (closing half of the registers to allow for proper distancing.) But they definitely have self-check.
In line must be fun for you. I wish I had one when I go for my 15 or 20 minute break( gotta get these buildings up)
the car delivery was kind of awful, at least in wellesley where i grew up. half the baggers were extremely elderly men, and on hot summer days these obnoxious wellesley soccer moms would have them pushing their carts across 200 yards of blacktop. they always looked like they were about to die from exhaustion.
i realize that employing the elderly is not a bad thing, but i always thought it was cruel to do to these old men.
It was uncomfortable having someone follow behind me like a servant. Worse was having someone witness my inability to remember where I had parked my car.
The Wellesley Roche Bros. has seemingly really struggled post-COVID with inventory, product quality, staffing, and customer flow issues. The self-checkouts there have always been super fussy. The Natick Stop & Shop is much easier to navigate, well stocked, and has much better prices.
Also, my kids love Marty and take pictures with him when they go to the store. Unlike his/her fellow robot at the South Bay Plaza Stop & Shop, however, the Natick Marty does NOT wear a mask.
Not willing to do anything to make it easier for companies to get rid of human employees. ;-)
Blade Runner content.
The Roche Bros in Natick dropped the carry-out folks and installed self-service check-outs --- and then hung a huge banner proclaiming themselves a great employer. They lost my loyalty that day.
Are businesses, not charities - make unskilled, easily replaceable labor too costly via inflated minimum wages and they will either find ways to cut costs (i.e. all hail robots) or shut down due to becoming unprofitable.
Here's a great article on this:
I now utilize the process where I scan the items as I put them in the cart. THis avoids having to scan at the register or wait in lines. It also avoids them putting 1 item into each plastic bag. They will sometimes scan a few items to verify theft. There are easy ways around this as the cashier typically scans light items on top. If I am being asked to scan and bag my own items, shouldn't I be given a discount as opposed to the person utilizing the cashier and bagger? If they want to encourage automation, that would be the way to do it. I still think MB does it right. Every register has a cashier and bagger. Many lines open and they are very efficient.
But self-checkout isn't automation at all. It automates nothing versus a regular checkout line. All it does is transfer the burden of labor from paid cashiers and baggers to unpaid customers. All the tasks which are performed in a regular checkout line -- removing items from a shopping cart, scanning & weighing those items, handling payment, bagging items, and returning those bags to the cart -- still must be performed by a human, and that human is the customer.
And the only potential time savings really are afforded from not having to wait in a line at a store where management has made the conscious decision to understaff cashiers for demand. Compared to going through an express lane with an experienced cashier, using self-checkout is MUCH slower, especially if the machine throws an error, which it almost always does.
Some labor transfer devices -- like a customer-facing credit card reader -- are fine because the labor done by the customer is minimal or less than the legacy method of handing a card or cash to the checker. I don't work for Roche Bros. or Stop & Shop or Walmart or wherever, so I'd rather go through a line with a cashier.
I knew the rate of "external shrinkage" was higher with automated checkouts, but I never dreamed it was DOUBLE. And the machines cost $30K apiece? Magnificent. Even in Massachusetts, home of above-starvation-level minimum wage, that's more than a year of full-time pay for a cashier. And you need one full-time employee for every ~5 automatic checkout machine, because they're such incredible pieces of shit that they malfunction constantly. And I wonder how long those machines last before they either break down or are made obsolete. I bet it's somewhere between two and five years.
The benefits and the payroll taxes. Oh, and the bagger with benefits and payroll taxes, assuming they're also full time. Year after year after year.
Also this is a Twitter thread comparing self-checkout to the issues experienced with autonomous vehicles:
Turns out that making an automated system that’s 95% as good as a human is relatively easy and one that’s 100% as good as a human is very hard.
Which I think is the case. With self-checkout, the hard things are things like recognizing the difference between an apple and an orange and a banana (needless to say, the difference between organic and conventional, which probably leads to a lot of "miscategorized" produce). So it doesn't do it, instead making us take that step on our own. Which is, of course, less efficient than an employee who has memorized the PLUs codes for the 50 most common vegetables and can enter them in less than a second.
In European grocery stores (mostly), they have a hybrid system. You take produce to a scale near the produce section, weigh it, and it prints out a sticker with a bar code on it, which is later scanned at checkout. I didn't like it because it takes me a lot longer to weigh the item there and print the label than it would, again, for the checkout person to enter a four digit code there.
In European grocery stores (mostly), they have a hybrid system. You take produce to a scale near the produce section, weigh it, and it prints out a sticker with a bar code on it, which is later scanned at checkout.
Stop & Shop has scales to do that around the produce area. Or at least did the last time I shopped at a Stop & Shop (which was last year in Ptown)
in my area, as the printout function has proven to be horribily unreliable.
Let’s give the robits a summer job so that via neural networking they can learn the value of a dollar.
I loved the story about the person who was ringing in their one container of ramen multiple times instead of the steaks, gourmet cheese, and organic vegetables that were in their basket.
Stores will always needs human oversight. Why waste money on expensive equipment that will get yanked once the level of theft is realized?
remind me how much we value C-level execs and management consultants, and how completely worthless they are.
Like, it's totally wild that so many businesses have decided that the solution to their problems is to get a team of twentysomethings with no expertise or training in their subject area to make Powerpoints about it, and assume that will work out because they went to Harvard and have MBAs so obviously they must be good at figuring stuff out. It's like we're trying to re-create the era of the British Empire where they sent young men to colonial outposts to govern based on their impeccable translations of Epictetus, or their ability to recount the Battle of Agincourt.
So sure, automated checkouts at the store that has always resisted them, in the middle of a pandemic and a recession. What could go wrong?
This line by Arthur T Demoulas is why I'll be a Market Basket shopper forever
"A human being should be waiting on by a human being and not a computer"
This is why you'll never see self checkouts at Market Basket.
Its also why they are often very heavily staffed. One of the few places you can go on a weekday and still get groceries bagged by a bagger.
Kinda lost some respect for Roche for this. I was happy to pay more (cuz their stores are pricey) because they were a local business keeping local peeps employed. Not so sure about that now....
I want to get in and out as quick as possible. I prefer to bring my own bag and bag it myself. Often I'd rather put the groceries back onto the cart so I can put them on the bike outside the store.
My favorite self checkout is home depot. No scale to get slowed down and the handheld scanner is very quick to use.
My 2nd favorite is Stop & Shop where they have the scanners you use while shopping so you just pay at the end and leave.
Sure you have a point there.
But maybe if store stopped using self checkouts and HIRED EMPLOYEES instead of cutting them, your argument wouldn't be valid.
Home Depot's suck. Use a chip card. Forget it.
Yes S&S is alright.. until the handheld crashes and you're forced to rescan everything. So much time savings there.
Have razor-thin margins. Double their labor cost and they will either reduce labor and invest in automation, or become unprofitable and go out of business.
When this store first opened they had a few self-checkout lanes. They were removed after less than a year. This store is normally very good about having lots of lanes staffed and open, unlike the WR Star which, pre-COVID, always had long lines.
They DO get a lot of 12 item or less purchases, and if this makes it quicker to run in and get 2 or 3 items with minimal wait, then it's OK with me.
Rochies has employed generations of young (and old) people and gives back to the community. I'm willing to see how this goes before slamming them.
I guess the only question I would have is why are they trying it again? I do have a gut feeling that they are having staffing issues, which is the only reason I can see why most supermarkets are still closing early.
My hope is that this goes the way of the last attempt to do this. Roche Brothers is about customer service to me. I can buy milk anywhere.
are having staffing issues, especially with covid. Who wants to deal with a potentially deadly disease while making minimum wage? Of course, a grocery store could pay its employees more but then that cost would be passed onto the customers in the form of higher prices. That would then cause customers go to less expensive stores. With less customers, the store has no need for all the employees so their hours get cut or they get laid off...
Will their prices go down?
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