Medicine Hat Media

How-To: Use a Walmart Self Checkout

As everyone knows, the Walmart in Medicine Hat has a self-serve checkout. What everyone does not know is that the self checkouts are meant to provide an expedient way for customers who have only a few items to get in and get out without having to wait in lengthy lineups. Unfortunately Walmart does not post an item limit for using the self checkouts. Customers who go to Walmart for a few items often have to wait for an unnecessary amount of time while some customers with 40+ items in their cart try to fumble around with the item lookup or not knowing how to scan their items.

I have been caught in the self checkout line many times waiting behind people who are scouring their cereal boxes for where an elusive UPC code might be, or more commonly, not knowing how the item database works when they have to look up vegetables or fruit that do not have a UPC. Some customers seem to think that the key to the self checkout is to get the UPC as close to the barcode scanner as possible, but as anyone who has worked in retail knows, this is not the case. Other customers seem to think that the key to the self checkout is speed, but as they soon find out, scanning a bunch of items at once and trying to cram them into the bag quickly just does not work.

Walmart offers 3 types of checkout lanes for customers:

  • The first is a small to medium item limit that has a maximum of 6 checkout lanes. Go here if you are not buying a full cart of items.
  • The second is a medium to full shopping cart item limit. This is where anyone who is buying a large amount of food or items should go.
  • And the last one is a self checkout that should only be used by people who are getting 1-10 items, ideally ones that do not need to be weighed or looked up on the item database, and most importantly, not used by people who do not understand the concept of expediency or being mindful to other people who may only be getting a few items.

I am not saying that my time is at all more valuable than anyone else’s. It just pains me to see someone not know how to locate a UPC on a box or understand alphabetical item listings in a database.

In short, if you cannot efficiently use the self checkout, then don’t.

User Comments

11 Responses to “How-To: Use a Walmart Self Checkout”

  1. March 12th, 2011 at 2:01 PM

    MIKE says:

    Wholeheartedly agree. If you can’t use it effectively then please wait in the lines with a cashier. So frustrating.

  2. March 13th, 2011 at 9:48 AM

    gary says:

    No non-cashier can scan 10 items faster than a cashier. a 5 year old kid shouldn’t be doing the scanning either.

  3. March 14th, 2011 at 8:17 AM

    Vaughn says:

    Please place the item in the shopping bag. Checking weight. Wrong weight detected. Waiting for assistance. Please place the item in the shopping bag. Checking weight. Wrong weight detected. Waiting for assistance.

  4. March 14th, 2011 at 8:20 AM

    Sean says:

    You shouldn’t go in the self checkout lanes then, Vaughn. I rarely get any of those errors.

    Over the weekend, I saw that 3 out of 5 of the operational self checkout tills were occupied by people with 40+ items in their cart. One woman had her purse around one arm and used the free arm to try and do everything along with her 7 year old who kept jamming the items onto the scanner and disregarding them.

  5. March 14th, 2011 at 9:35 AM

    Dusty Melling says:

    Gary: I am not a cashier, however I’ve had years experience as a cashier when I was younger. I am a VERY fast non-cashier, on that note I have seen cashiers who have been so painfully slow I’ve wanted to vomit.

  6. March 17th, 2011 at 6:46 AM

    Anonymous says:

    Makes you wonder… How dare people impede our personal RIGHT to purchase whatever we want, whenever we want, and as quickly as possible.

  7. March 17th, 2011 at 6:58 AM

    Anonymous says:

    Also, I have to question whether the intent of walmart’s introduction of the self check-out was indeed to provide better customer service to customers with only a few items, or whether it was to reduce staffing costs. Six or ten self check-outs per employbeaus a lot cheaper than one checkout per employee. I’ve always assumed that they were downloading their customer service onto the customer just like at fast food places that have trained customers (without even realizing it) to pour their own drinks – it saves their employees and them the time and effort.

  8. March 22nd, 2011 at 5:48 PM

    Taylor says:

    I am sure the primary goal was to reduce costs of paying employees. However, I also know that self-checkouts are only profitable if the store has enough traffic to have at least 3 (or maybe 5) tills consistently busy enough to have cashiers operating them constantly, so it is a fine balance.

    That being said the benefits to those customers with only a few items are undeniable. However, I have cashiered for 4 years or something, and even with the experience I have it is never faster to use self-serve tills for more than about 4 or 5 items, let alone for inexperienced people with a cart-load. They simply are not set up to be efficient with many items.

    I completely agree with this post in that there should be some kind of restriction on the number of items allowed for these tills so the benefits to the customer can be maximized. If only we could make people meet minimum skill requirements in order to use them… I can always dream.

  9. April 19th, 2011 at 11:20 AM

    Chickster says:

    I was in Walmart this weekend with FOUR items. Since most of the cashiered tills were extremely busy I thought I’d save myself some time at the self-checkout stand. Of course, there were two stations with women who were clearly doing their weekly family grocery shopping for a household of 12. I mean, REALLY??? You’re going to weigh all that produce, try to figure out what you haven’t bagged as the machine is repeating to you to place the item in the bag, wait for assistance, etc. It was painful!! I don’t know why people assume they are going to save time doing it that way. Maybe they just think scanning stuff is fun. Here’s a tip… if you like scanning so much, get a part time job at a grocery store!

    Needless to say, by the time I got to a machine I was gone in less than a minute… the way it should be. I think Walamrt should post a 15 (or 10 or 20) item limit sign. If the one staff member who controls the self-checkout stations sees a woman with a stupidly overflowing cart and three kids coming her way, she should politely suggest she take her cart to the nearest cashier.

  10. April 19th, 2011 at 11:25 AM

    Chickster says:

    Oh, but I must admit I had an even nastier encounter at a Safeway last weekend. I had my arms full of items (about 10 and didn’t grab a basket on my way in) and saw a cashier approach a lady waiting in line to escort her to a new till. I thought, bonus, my arms are falling off and my hands are numb. So I walked over too and placed my items on the converyor belt behind the woman’s cart-load of groceries. The cashier looked up at me and said, “Ummmm, I’m NOT OPEN!” I said, “Well you look open.” She said, “If I was open, my LIGHT would be on, wouldn’t it?” I asked if she wanted me to move to a different station and she said, “Whatever, I’m supposed to be on my break right now.” By that point, I like to be spiteful so I kept my few items there and added another three minutes to her workday. She wouldn’t acknowledge me and didn’t exchange one word with me during my transaction. I couldn’t believe it. When there isn’t a LANE CLOSED sign on the conveyor belt and a cashier is ringing groceries through, wouldn’t it be a common assumption the lane is OPEN? *sigh*

  11. May 7th, 2011 at 1:25 PM

    Nicole says:

    @Chickster: That cashier was super rude, wow. If the light isn’t on, we can’t assume the lane is open. The cashier was probably about to leave for her break and a supervisor made her take that one last customer. When I worked at a grocery store, we got a certain 15 minute break (as in 10-1015), and if we had to take extra customers on or a customer stopped and asked us for help on the way to the break room, that came out of our 15 minutes of break time. Sucks and doesn’t exactly promote customer-service friendly atmosphere.

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