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Confirmed: Self-service checkouts are NOT coming to Aldi Australia

Lucy Dean
No self-service checkouts for Aldi shoppers. Image: Getty
No self-service checkouts for Aldi shoppers. Image: Getty

Aldi is known for a few things: its quirky ads, its cut-price products and its notoriously stressful checkout experience as staff scan products at break-neck speed.

And while a new trial of self-service checkouts at a UK store offer hope to frenzied English shoppers, there’s little chance that self-service checkouts are coming to Aldi stores in Australia.

Aldi Australia has confirmed with Yahoo Finance that they have no plans to trial stores with self-service checkouts down-under.

“We currently have no plans to trial stores with self-service checkouts,” an Aldi spokesperson said.

“Feedback has told us that our shoppers prefer face-to-face interactions at registers, and that they are an important part of their in-store experience.

“Our current store format enables us to focus on creating the best possible in-store experience, while continuing to deliver high-quality products at permanently low prices.”

It’s not a new stance: an Aldi spokesman told the Sydney Morning Herald that Aldi checkouts operate with “industry-leading efficiency”, and that Aldi’s policy of having multiple barcodes on packaging makes scanning products a quicker task for staff.

Woolworths and Coles began rolling out self-service checkouts in 2009, but customers still have a choice of whether to be served by staff or at a bay.

But the move to self-service checkouts has also triggered a series of challenges for the supermarket giant, namely theft.

Customers were previously able to search item menus for products without barcodes, like vegetables, and scan more expensive products in under cheaper prices.

The two stores also faced customer backlash over fears the instalment of self-service checkouts would see the often young workers lose jobs, or the opportunity to gain their first job.

But self-service checkouts haven’t resulted in lower staff numbers, researchers from the Queensland University of Technology noted. That’s mainly due to the need for staff to monitor customers at the checkouts to prevent theft.

The researchers explained customers are less likely to steal with a human employee nearby as they’re scared of being caught, and feel worse about stealing from a human than a machine.

Theft costs Australian retailers $9.3 billion a year, around 3 per cent of annual turnover.

The companies hope new technology, in addition to staffing, will solve the problem. Coles is reportedly trialling tablet-sized cameras on top of its self-service checkouts in several locations in an attempt to deter shoplifters.

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