Author: Natasha Hewitt, 13 February 2018

There was a lot of excitement when Zara announced that they would be phasing these checkouts into British stores at the end of last year, so I was excited to see them in person. Following the example of grocery retailers, the checkouts are hoping to cut down on queueing time (something I was more than happy to take part in, to avoid the hideous queue on a Saturday in Zara Westfield…). The stations were located on the exit to the changing rooms, perhaps encouraging impulse purchases. This was convenient and also avoided taking up any floorspace in the main store.

The machines looked very sleek and were intuitive, with the responsive touch screens offering step by step instructions. In addition, to avoid scrambling to find a barcode for each item, the machine detects what is near the terminal and allows you to confirm the correct items on screen.

Zara self-service checkout

Unfortunately, that is where the positive experience ended. Only 1 of 3 machines worked, and the working one came up with a new error for everyone who tried to use it (wrong item scanned / receipt stuck / payment not working). Half the queue gave up waiting and opted to brave the main queue. An uninterested member of staff was on hand to help, but I think her patience was wearing thin with the technology breaking every couple of minutes (I’m not sure I blame her).

Checkout queue

While I can see the merits of this technology, it is clear that Zara wanted to get ahead of the game, at the cost of making sure it was ready for action (perhaps it would have been better to wait until the supermarkets had properly mastered it!) Nevertheless, I expect to see more of these popping up, both in Zara and other retailers, hopefully after those teething problems have been sorted!

Tags: Retailers

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