The ShopRite stores in Delaware are replacing their traditional cashier-tended checkout lines with self-checkout aisles where customers scan their own items and navigate a touch screen to complete payment.
The move makes ShopRite the first grocery chain in Delaware to primarily use self-checkout.
“The decision to convert to self-checkout/fast lanes at our six stores was driven by customer demand for the amenity and our goal to provide the best possible checkout experience,” Karen O’Shea, a spokesperson for Wakefern Food Corp. the retailer-owned cooperative of supermarkets to which the Delaware ShopRite stores belong, said in a statement.
O’Shea said no jobs are being eliminated and ShopRite is hiring for front-end positions and other roles at all stores.
Some stores including the locations in Four Seasons Plaza off Route 896 in Glasgow and Chestnut Hill Plaza off Route 4 in Ogletown have already changed to self-checkout. All six ShopRite stores in Delaware are scheduled to transition before the end of the year, according to store employees.
Compared to the self-checkout stations currently in most grocery stores, the ShopRite self-checkout aisles are larger and oriented more like a traditional checkout lane with a conveyor belt.
The change prompted mostly negative reaction on social media.
“Absolutely hate it,” said one Facebook commenter. “After I work all day at my real job. Now when I go to ShopRite, I have to check myself out at the grocery store.”
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Others said on recent visits they didn’t notice the store only offered self-checkout or prefer self-checkout to avoid an interaction or move through checkout lines faster.
Many grocers have been using a mix of cashiers and self-checkout lanes for the past few years. In most cases, an employee overlooks around a half dozen self-checkout stations and helps customers as issues arise.
At the ShopRite in Four Seasons Plaza Tuesday, a few workers were stationed at the self-checkout lanes acting as cashiers but from the same side of the aisle as shoppers. At the Chestnut Hill Plaza store, the only option was self-checkout.
The ShopRite in Brandywine Commons off Concord Pike had a few self-checkout aisles installed Tuesday, but still had several cashier-tended stations.
O’Shea said employees will be available to help customers at self-checkout. She also said ShopRite is “keeping some dedicated queues for traditional checkout.”
“New technology and upgrades at the front-end offer our customers a more open and convenient layout as they checkout and leave the store,” O’Shea said. “We embrace technology that helps our customers have a better shopping experience but also understand the importance of the human touch and personal service.”
The pandemic has helped spur several changes in the way grocery stores operate. All ShopRite stores, for example, offer online ordering with delivery or in-store pickup options – services that became popular last year when the state enacted a stay-at-home order.
Emerging technology could lead to further changes. The most extreme example is Amazon’s “Amazon Go Grocery” stores in major U.S. cities such as New York, Chicago and Seattle. The stores don’t have checkout lines.
Instead, its “just walk out” technology detects when products are removed from shelves and keeps track of them in a virtual cart. When customers are done shopping, they leave the store and their Amazon account is charged.
At some stores, ShopRite offers mobile scan, an app where shoppers scan groceries as they shop and check sales as they walk down an aisle. Customers pay at a self-checkout station. The mobile scan app is not offered at the Delaware locations.
While ShopRite is the first grocery chain in Delaware to primarily use self-checkout, many of the largest chains such as Acme and Food Lion have both cashiers and self-checkout.
Smaller companies like Aldi and Trader Joe’s do not have self-checkout.