When automation fails lesson form offline world

This post isn’t related to digital design but it’s related to the grocery shopping. In a small grocery shop near my home they install two self-checkout units so customers don’t have to wait until a second or even a third person comes to help out with the queue. Before there stood behind a counter one clerk and when the queue grew they rang the bell and waited for second clerk. If it didn’t help they repeated and third clerk came.

Two or three weeks ago they installed two self-checkout units but those queues are still there. It did hit me this morning when I wanted to buy something for breakfast that those two units might be counter productive. There were two men waiting in front of me and effectively blocking one of two units, the other is broken at the moment. I had to ask them if they plan to use because they stood right next to it.

After all I don’t think it’s a bad idea. It’s just how they arranged the space is not good. If they decided to switch the location of normal counters and self-checkout units it would be better because those who want to wait can wait and those who don’t don’t have to. There’s also fear of unknown because this was the first time I saw a self-checkout in a small store and also humans crave interaction with other humans. All this we have to take into account when we want to substitute humans with machines.