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Auto-immune? Amazon halts UK expansion of Fresh, Tesco petitioned to stop self-checkout

Shoppers can buy without checking out from Amazon Fresh stores in the UK. Image courtesy of Amazon

Consumers in the UK are biting back against the rise of self-checkout and check-out free stores, with Amazon announcing that it will open no new additional Go stores in the UK while Tesco receives lengthy petition to halt expansion of self-checkouts in its stores.

Amazon’s checkout-free Go stores have proved popular in the US, however, sales in the retailer’s pilot London store have been ‘lacklustre’ according to reports in The Times. The reception has seen Amazon halt talks to rent extra stores to hurry its roll out.

Under the name Amazon Fresh, the London store opened in 202, but rising prices, economic uncertainty and slow sales have prompted the retailer to rethink its roll out plan. It is understood that it will revisit the roll out in a year’s time. 

Meanwhile, more than 236,000 Tesco customers have so far signed a petition to halt the further introduction of self-service tills for bigger trolley loads. The protest comes after the UK’s largest supermarket chain stripped out some staffed tills from many of its largest supermarkets. It replaced them with new self-service tills with larger bagging areas better able to accommodate larger trolley loads.

The retailer claims that the self-checkouts make shopping faster and easier, but consumers are increasingly turning against such automation, often worrying about not only how to use them, but also the impact on in-store staff jobs. 

A spokeswoman for Tesco told The Grocer: “We are proud to offer customers choice when it comes to checkouts, and after successful trials we are introducing new trolley-accessible self-service checkouts in some of our stores, which have more room and are easier to use for larger shops.

“Our colleagues and the friendly service they provide are absolutely vital to our stores – they will always be on hand to help our customers, and will continue to operate attended checkouts so that customers can choose the option they prefer.”

ParcelHero’s Head of Consumer Research, David Jinks MILT, comments: “The self-evident truth of self-service and till-free shopping is that the tech has yet to match consumer’s expectations. Many shoppers would probably skip supermarket queues entirely, even at the expense of missing a regular chat, if the technology read items as customers left the store, with accounts automatically deducted.  That’s without having to download special Apps, etc. Trials for this kind of ultra-simple, checkout-less process have gone on for several years, often based on RFID (radio frequency identification) technology, similar to the traditional barcode. 

“Anything short of that, in terms of self-service or cashier-less shopping, is extra faff and stress for customers. Retailers need to ensure they are not perceived as attempting to save costs by reducing staffing levels at the expense of customer experience.”

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