Before critiquing, let me say that I generally like self checkout.  I appreciate bagging my own stuff so its grouped the way I want, and in fewer bags.  I don’t mind less interaction with staff.  And, I especially appreciate that those lines are almost always available.

However, BJs is different.  I appreciate that BJs offers self checkout.  But, for me it is not useful.  I need the hand unit to scan the big stuff and a quantity button for my 12 gallons of milk.  Plus, if I take everything out of the cart I almost always purchase enough that the belt fills up and needs to be emptied part way through.

Thus, today I went to a cashier.  She was atrocious.  Nice, but an inept cashier which cost me between 20 & 30 minutes – a huge amount of time.  It was so bad that the person behind me in line went fetch the manager to move things along and I employed the BJs survey to critique her performance later.

Unlike other places, the BJs self checkout lines almost always back up.  This is often because the cashier lines are longer, but could be significantly improved fairly easily.

  1. Give the customer access to a hand unit.  It does not need to be a fully functioning one; just a moveable scanner.  And, it could/should be tethered.
    1. This would reduce the time folks take getting all those big items out of their cart.
    2. Leaving large items on the cart would reduce/eliminate the backed up belts that require one to stop mid-scan to rearrange the scanned items to free up space.
    3. Tethering it would prevent it walking around and getting lost among the registers which is a current problem with the employee unit.
    4. Much of the population has experience with these machines from other places – wedding or baby registries and grocery self scanners come to mind immediately.
    5. The wait for an employee to come scan your heavy stuff would be eliminated.
  2. Add a quantity button to self checkout.
    1. Receipts are already checked at exit.  If theft via quantity is truly a concern, self checkout receipts could be flagged for special counting.
    2. Heck, because of the membership card BJs can track everyone.  If they learn someone is routinely cheating they could prevent them from using self checkout, or just recind their membership.
    3. It would speed up self checkout – more items that don’t have to come out of the cart.
    4. Nobody wants to scan more than two or three of the same item.
    5. Lots of folks buy multiples at BJs.  I’ve lost could of the flatbeds I’ve seen go through the checkout line because 90% of what their buying is 10+ flats of bottled water.
    6. A quantity button would enable more folks to use self checkout thereby freeing up cashiers for those who truly need them.

The self checkout process should be a positive for the store largely because fewer cashiers are required to clear the same amount of merchandise.  But, BJs is handcuffing this process.  It should be set free.