Morrisons brings back staffed express checkouts

Because customers hate self-scanners

Updated: 
Morrisons results

Good news for those panicked by self-service machines barking 'unexpected item in bagging area': Morrisons is to reintroduce staffed express checkouts.

After commissioning research that shows two thirds of us dislike the self-scanners, the company wants to make life easier for shoppers in a hurry. It found that 96% of shoppers like to have a chat with till staff, while one in seven enjoy sharing a joke.

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The new express lanes will serve customers who wish to buy ten items or less, suiting today's shopping patterns. Research from Kantar Worldpanel has shown that most of us now shop five times a week, averaging just 11 items at a time. The average spend is £15.

"We're listening hard to our customers and responding quickly wherever possible. If customers from time to time do smaller shops, they want to get in and out of our stores quickly," says CO David Potts.

"We are responding by introducing express checkouts which shoppers with ten items or less can use. These checkouts - and our very helpful staff - will offer a quick and personal service, helping to keep queues low and improving thousands of shopping trips."

Two existing trolley checkouts will be converted to express lanes at each of Morrisons 504 supermarkets nationwide. One will be open from 8am to 8pm, with both operating during the daily peak shopping periods of 12-2pm and 4-6pm.

The self-service machines will remain for those who prefer them. But one casualty of the customer research is the company's Intelligent Queue Management system, which automated the opening and closing of checkouts as customer numbers rose and fell. Staff hated it, and are now to be allowed to make the decision for themselves.

While the price war between supermarkets continues, Morrisons is aiming to distinguish itself from the pack by focusing on customer service. Earlier this month, it announced plans to cut head office staff by 720, while creating 5,000 new customer-facing positions.

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And staff are now to be incentivised with a new bonus scheme that focuses on customer satisfaction rather than 'scan rate'.

"We are focusing on the things that matter to our customers. That means having more of our staff in our stores, improving product availability and helping customers at our checkouts," says Potts.

The change could also make financial sense for the supermarket. Last year, a survey found that one in five people have taken an item without paying when using a self-service checkout - often because they simply couldn't get an item to scan. As a result, he Vouchercodespro.co.uk found, supermarkets are losing over £1.6 billion a year.

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