So Much For Progress

at least when it comes to buying food:

A checkout-free Sainsbury’s branch has reinstalled its tills after just three months because customers chose to queue at the helpdesk to pay in the traditional way, rather than use the app.
The Holborn Circus shop was made till-free in April this year, with customers able to pay for products using the company’s app on their phone – in a drive to speed up shopping.
Shoppers download an app, called SmartShop then scan the barcode of the items they want to buy.
But the experiment resulted in long queues at the help desk, as people tried to pay for their groceries in the traditional way.

See, I know where this came from.  Some twerp in Finance looked at the staffing costs and recommended to Management that the company eliminate people altogether from their stores.
“But how do we do that?”  Management cried.
“Fear not,” said IT (or a $2,000/hour team of consultants from Bain, after a 2-year study), “We can just force people to use Technologeh!”

So now Sainsbury’s has had to re-install checkouts and hire staff — but the Finance / IT / consultant wizards are not dangling from lamp posts along Holborn Street, as would have happened under the reign of World-Emperor Kim.

And more’s the pity, methinks.


  1. Local supermarket here had a similar system (though using hand terminals rather than an app).
    After half a year they abandoned it.
    Official reason is customer didn’t like it (but the lines near the payment terminal for the system were always long).
    Real reason is that there was a very high amount of products leaving the store that hadn’t been paid for…

    IOW it facillitated shoplifting to a far higher degree than high school kids behind the checkout counters failing to scan stuff for their friends into the cash register.
    Who’d have thought.

    Other supermarkets with similar systems seem able to make it work though, probably doing more spot checks on the honesty of their customers.

  2. All this app stuff is severely lacking.
    I have purposely avoided them for the most part.
    Our son runs his own tech company that has been specializing in app development for the past 10 years, currently is redoing everything for Starbucks. He told me about the problems with apps. A lot of people are just too stupid to use them, the apps are diff for each phone and sometimes don’t work the same within the same phone genre, cell phone software is being updated all the time, people lose their phones, forget their passwords, yada, yada. He says the average cellphone user is LESS efficient than using alternate sources. I believe it. Anytime I have tried to do anything on a phone it takes at least twice as long.

    I have a dumb smartphone but rarely use it, and I’ve been involved with computers in one for or another since 1979 (mostly computer aided design) and in all that time I was always striving for bigger moniters. Currently I am using 2 28″ ASUS monitors, so it has stymied me why anyone could prefer to do anything with 3″-5″ monitors. I have an AutoCAD app on my phone and tried to use it once and it was a failure right away – constant zooming, panning, unzooming. Fuk that.

    1. I’m with you on the big monitors. Currently my computer is plugged into my 55″ TV and with a wireless mouse and keyboard I surf the internet from the comfort of my recliner.

  3. I refuse to use the self-checkout or the devices jwenting mentioned until the store puts me on the payroll.

    1. using them saves me 10 minutes standing in line for the checkout counter, then another 5 minutes+ while the content of my shopping cart are scanned and counted, then another few minutes while I pack everything in my bags.
      That’s 15 minutes saved. At the rate I value my time (which is higher than what my employer pays me, but that’s another story) that’s more money than I’d get paid if I had a job at that store.

  4. Because people who buy food to actually prepare it at home, are NOT the same people who pay for useless crap on their $1000 new phone accessory thing.

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