A Tale Of Two Albertsons

Written by Evan Schuman
July 13th, 2011

It’s the Tale of Two Albertsons: It was the best of self-checkout. It was the worst of self-checkout.

In a bizarre demonstration of the emotionally charged differences in retail and consumer attitudes about self-checkout, Monday (July 11) saw an enthusiastic statement from Supervalu’s Albertsons stores promising to keep self-checkout in all stores. This comes a week after Albertsons LLC pledged to remove self-checkout from all of its stores. Both actions were done under the heading of improving customer service. This follows a confirmation from Kroger that it is experimenting—at one location—with a self-checkout-less store.

The fact that two retailers, which both own one-half of what years ago was a consolidated Albertsons chain, take divergent views on a checkout technology is not surprising. But the ferventness of the opposite positions, coupled with the intensity of the consumer love/hate for the self-checkout—note the emotionalism in the comments on both the links above—is impressive.

This started last week, when we ran our story about Albertsons, which prompted a series of stories to link to our coverage, including Time, MSNBC, the Drudge Report and CNET. (You see what us StorefrontBacktalk readers get to see before anyone else?)

Quite a few newspapers picked it up from there. That prompted Albertsons LLC to take bows for its pro-customer position. At the same time, though, Supervalu’s Albertsons got deluged with calls that they need to stick with self-checkout. On Monday (July 11), Supervalu Albertsons issued a statement: “Since this story broke last week, our customers have called us and we learned first-hand that they want and appreciate the convenience of self check-out lanes.”

Moral of the story: If you want to boost customer service and make customers happy, you absolutely need to remove all of your self-checkout. Either that, or add a lot more. One of those approaches should do the trick.


One Comment | Read A Tale Of Two Albertsons

  1. Sally Says:

    If they take out self-check out, I will no longer shop at Albertsons. I am so tired of standing in a long line at my local Albertsons in Monrovia, CA, only to find the Clerk gabbing with a friend who is checking out. One day it took ten minutes for a Clerk to scan three itmes. I had to listen to two women gossiping about a shopping spree. So GOODBYE Albertsons, there are so many great grocery stores in my neighborhood, such as Henry’s Market.


StorefrontBacktalk delivers the latest retail technology news & analysis. Join more than 60,000 retail IT leaders who subscribe to our free weekly email. Sign up today!

Most Recent Comments

Why Did Gonzales Hackers Like European Cards So Much Better?

I am still unclear about the core point here-- why higher value of European cards. Supply and demand, yes, makes sense. But the fact that the cards were chip and pin (EMV) should make them less valuable because that demonstrably reduces the ability to use them fraudulently. Did the author mean that the chip and pin cards could be used in a country where EMV is not implemented--the US--and this mis-match make it easier to us them since the issuing banks may not have as robust anti-fraud controls as non-EMV banks because they assumed EMV would do the fraud prevention for them Read more...
Two possible reasons that I can think of and have seen in the past - 1) Cards issued by European banks when used online cross border don't usually support AVS checks. So, when a European card is used with a billing address that's in the US, an ecom merchant wouldn't necessarily know that the shipping zip code doesn't match the billing code. 2) Also, in offline chip countries the card determines whether or not a transaction is approved, not the issuer. In my experience, European issuers haven't developed the same checks on authorization requests as US issuers. So, these cards might be more valuable because they are more likely to get approved. Read more...
A smart card slot in terminals doesn't mean there is a reader or that the reader is activated. Then, activated reader or not, the U.S. processors don't have apps certified or ready to load into those terminals to accept and process smart card transactions just yet. Don't get your card(t) before the terminal (horse). Read more...
The marketplace does speak. More fraud capacity translates to higher value for the stolen data. Because nearly 100% of all US transactions are authorized online in real time, we have less fraud regardless of whether the card is Magstripe only or chip and PIn. Hence, $10 prices for US cards vs $25 for the European counterparts. Read more...
@David True. The European cards have both an EMV chip AND a mag stripe. Europeans may generally use the chip for their transactions, but the insecure stripe remains vulnerable to skimming, whether it be from a false front on an ATM or a dishonest waiter with a handheld skimmer. If their stripe is skimmed, the track data can still be cloned and used fraudulently in the United States. If European banks only detect fraud from 9-5 GMT, that might explain why American criminals prefer them over American bank issued cards, who have fraud detection in place 24x7. Read more...

Our apologies. Due to legal and security copyright issues, we can't facilitate the printing of Premium Content. If you absolutely need a hard copy, please contact customer service.