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Pick n Pay tests self-service till

| Innovation and technology

A Picture of a self-service check-out machine at one of retailer Pick n Pay’s stores has caused a mix of both horror and glee, much of which was expressed on social media.

But Pick n Pay’s group executive for strategy and corporate affairs, David North, said the machine was merely in test phase in one store in Cape Town.

"We are always looking at new ways to help our customers by making their shopping trip easier and more convenient. In this case we are testing self-service checkouts in one store to see if it can save customers time at the till — particularly those in a hurry and shopping for just a few items."

North added: "We see it as an additional service and we are testing it in one store. Staff are required to monitor self-service checkouts and there is no impact on employment."

Self-service machines are not foreign to SA. In 2007, Airports Company SA (Acsa) unveiled self-service check-in kiosks at major airports. The service has since been extended to all nine Acsa airports in the country.

In July this year, the Health Department announced it was piloting a pharmacy dispensing unit — where patients could obtain their medication from self-service ATM-style machines.

Pick n Pay’s check-out machine is the first of its kind in the local retail market, but the technology is popular in the US and Europe.

Olea Kiosks CEO Frank Olea said self-service technologies changed how consumers behaved.

"One factor that causes consumers to behave differently when using an automated order system, such as a self-service kiosk, is that there is no potential for social judgment by a human server or cashier," said Olea.

In an experiment with self-service technologies in a liquor store setting, researchers found that users of the self-service kiosk were 8% more likely to purchase hard-to-pronounce items than those that used standard checkout with a human cashier, Olea said.

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