Sears’ Terrible iDevice Checkout

So I had a painfully long 20 minute checkout at Sears earlier tonight.  I have to say I’m appalled at how shamefully terrible their new checkout scheme is.  Talk about a nightmare customer experience.

  • I walk up with 8 items ready to buy at the register
  • I have to wait several minutes because they are trying to check out 2 other customers buying 1 or 2 items each.
  • Upon finally getting the attention of a cashier she says she needs to get the ‘ipod’ and check me out (while standing in front of a seemingly usable register).
  • After waiting yet another couple of minutes she finally starts to scan the items into the iPod.
  • This process takes much longer than it should, and it is obvious the scanner/iPod are inadequately slow.  After each scan it requires several seconds for it to register and add the item to the total.
  • She has to re-scan several of the items because they did not properly register on the ticket.
  • The cashier then asks me for my phone number, and ‘Show your way’ rewards.  I refuse to give either.
  • She asks for a phone number anyway
  • She asks for a credit card to which I refuse and say I will pay in cash.
  • Then the cashier proceeds to enter the transaction ID into the cash register to then complete the transaction.  She has to manually type from the iPod to the cash register.
  • Even on the customer keypad the total is not itemized but grouped as one item.
  • I finally pay her and she gets my change and receipt with the itemized pricing.
  • Throughout the process she blamed the technology for being slow, and apologized for the long delays.

Flaws with this system

  • The scanner is so slow, even if the barcodes were read properly the first try on each attempt it would take at least 5 seconds to scan each item.  Talk to any grocery store cashier 5 second scan times is terrible.
  • The user interface on the ipod is woefully too small.  The cashier was constantly scrolling on the device to determine if every item was scanned properly.
  • The customer has no real time feedback as to what each item cost.  And it would be cumbersome for the cashier to announce the price for each item individually.
  • Receipts have to be printed on the ‘normal’ register and takes keying in several things to get it to print.
  • Transferring a transaction to a register to pay in cash is also quite cumbersome.
  • It just takes too long for the whole transaction.  I can’t imagine on Black Friday with lines of dozens of people waiting and 5-8 minutes (assuming they improve their speed) for each customer to check out.
  • Quit pestering me about your stupid rewards program.  If I don’t want to participate don’t ask for my phone number anyway.

Why this works in the Apple Store

  • Many Apple stores often do not have formalized cash registers
  • People generally don’t buy a large quantity of items at an Apple store, since they have mostly higher priced items

I really think this is an attempt for Sears (one of the oldest retail chains in the US) to be hip or cool by copying Apple.  But, in many ways it fails to understand their business.  Sears isn’t in the same high margin sales business that Apple is in.  I don’t think there is an expectation for Sears customers to be hip and trendy. Sears if nothing else is about volume, their slow checkout will deter customers and may lead to walk outs who don’t want to wait for their slow checkout process.  I know in theory this increases the number of registers if you have an army of people with these iCheckut devices but that isn’t really reducing costs since you have to pay all those people to check people out.

This is a massive customer interface failure.  There are distinct disadvantages over the ‘normal’ cash register transaction.  You are losing features that the customer had yesterday that your new checkout scheme does not offer.

This entry was posted on Saturday, February 9th, 2013 at 2:42 am and is filed under biz, Blogging, Technology. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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