Self-checkout, great or not so great?

Self-checkout machine throwing an error

People don't like waiting in lines. This has been an almost universal truth since forever, and we apologize if you're one of the 6 people out there who actually does love a good line. For the rest of us, they're pretty much the worst thing of all time.

Why is that? Well, you want to accomplish something, but you can't because all these other people are in front of you trying to accomplish their things first. It's very annoying.

While many of us just sort of assume that the concept of waiting in line has been around since the dawn of humanity, that's actually not the case. The first written description of people standing in line popped up in 1837 in a book called The French Revolution: A History by Thomas Carlyle. The author, Tom, wrote about the phenomenon in bewilderment as he saw people standing in lines to buy bread from bakers throughout the city of Paris.

Flash forward less than 200 years, and here we are. Waiting in line for everything.

Anyways, grocery stores notice that we hate lines, and so they came up with the brilliant idea of putting in self-checkout lanes. In theory, these machines are faster checkout options with faster moving lines and less waiting around. Again, that's just in theory.

In reality, self-checkout isn't always so great, and sometimes it's downright awful. Let's take a look at why.

Self-Checkout Can Actually Take Longer

We've all been there. We get in the self-checkout line because it's moving faster than the regular line. And then we end up taking twice as long because the machine doesn't work or we can't figure out how to properly scan our items.

There have been multiple studies on the matter, and they've all come to the same conclusion: self-checkout can actually take longer than traditional checkout, especially if you have more than a few items.

Enter the Blinking Light of Doom

One of the main reasons that self-checkout can take longer is what we like to call "the blinking light of doom." It's that annoying light that lets human cashiers know that you need assistance. It's also the light that lets you know that you're going to spend the next 2-5 minutes standing around embarrassed while waiting for somebody to notice you.

What did you do wrong to make the self-checkout stop working and cause that assistance needed light to start blinking? Nobody really knows. It is perhaps the greatest sign of artificial intelligence that we have so far. Simply put, these machines just want to mess with us. They want to see us embarrassed and helpless. They're plotting our downfall.

Self-Checkout Panic

One of the biggest problems with self-checkout lanes in grocery stores is that they tend to not have anybody bagging at the other end of the belt. That's because these lanes are designed to cause maximum psychological damage to us at every step of the process.

So there you are, finished scanning your items. At the other end of the lane is a huge pile of groceries that you'll now have to bag. Behind you is somebody waiting for their turn at the self-checkout machine. They see you pull your receipt and start to walk away, but they're not accounting for the fact that you still need to bag all your stuff.

When you leave the console area and move down to the bagging area, there is a vacancy that the next person in line will immediately start to move towards. But you're not done. So now you're standing at the other end of this lane, trying to stuff everything into bags as quickly as you can, while an unbreakable awkwardness hangs in the air between you and the next person.

They want you to be done, you want you to be done. Everybody wants you to be done. The machine even thanked you for shopping and wished you a nice day (that's another thing we need to talk about. Since when do machines get to talk to us like they’re people? They're not people! Just machines!)

The whole thing is panic-inducing and has caused more than one of us to go off the deep end. Like that time we spent the next 15 minutes in our car in the grocery store parking lot angrily eating raw stalks of celery while we thought about the horrible self-checkout experience we just had.

Self-Checkout With Caboodle is Always Great

We actually think the whole grocery shopping experience could be much better, so we created our own. It's called Caboodle, and it's going to change the way you think about groceries.

Each week, you'll put together your shopping list from curated bundles and then those groceries will be delivered to your door. That means no going to the store and dealing with all of the nonsense that comes with it. Instead, you checkout on your phone and the whole experience takes 6 minutes. That's it.

Better still, Caboodle makes grocery shopping even cheaper than it would be in the store!

Right now, Caboodle is in the testing phase in our local city of Pittsburgh. If you're in the area, and you want to give our grocery delivery app a whirl, just join our waiting list.