Canstar Blue has found that a third of its 3000 surveyed shoppers still struggle to scan and pack their groceries themselves without frustration, and more than half simply prefer to use traditional checkouts.
Overall, 66 per cent of survey respondents said they find self-service checkouts “easy to use”, but their popularity varies significantly between young and old. While nine out of ten consumers aged 18-39 declared them easy to use, the number dropped to about five out of ten shoppers aged over 60.
Women (70 per cent) find self-service checkouts easier to use than men (61 per cent).
Whether consumers find them easy to use or not, just 47 per cent of adults surveyed said they prefer to use self-service checkouts when they are available. Three-quarters (74%) of those aged 18-29 agreed with this point, compared with just a quarter (25%) of people aged 70 and over.
Meanwhile 9 per cent of shoppers admitted to deliberately not paying for an item at a self-service checkout. This number jumped to 17 per cent of those aged in their 30s, compared to just 2 per cent of adults aged 70 plus. Men (10 per cent) are more likely to steal than women (8 per cent).
Of those survey respondents, those who favour self-service checkouts said their reasons for doing so quicker transactions (84 per cent) and the absence of interaction with checkout operators (11 per cent).
Among those who favour traditional supermarket checkouts with an operator, 34 per cent said they find them to be quicker and 41 per cent said they like interacting with checkout operators.
Furthermore, the survey found that 71 per cent of Coles customers find self-service checkouts easy to use, compared with 68 per cent of Woolworths shoppers.
“When they work properly, and customers use them properly, self-service checkouts are clearly a convenient option for many shoppers. But when something doesn’t go the way you want it, they can be hugely frustrating,” said head of Canstar Blue, Megan Doyle.
“They are designed to make the checkout process quicker, so anything that causes a delay is clearly defeating the purpose. That includes standing around waiting for an assistant to help correct an issue which can sometimes be the most frustrating part of all.
“It’s easy for shoppers to blame the machine when things go wrong but it could be that, by trying to be too quick, it’s easy to make mistakes and get frustrated.
“Our results show a clear preference for self-service checkouts amongst young supermarket shoppers, so it would appear there is a strong market for them. The challenge for the supermarkets is to find the perfect balance between self-service and manned checkouts, in an effort to keep everyone happy.”