Swords Orthodontics
17 Main St, Swords, Co Dublin, Ireland

Doing It Yourself: Part 2

Please scan your item....

Unexpected item in the bagging area.
How many bags did you use? Have you scanned all your items?
Photo by Fancycrave on Unsplash

Well, last weekend I bought some groceries at a shop where they have a self-service check-out. I collect the groceries from the shelves, carry the groceries to the terminal, scan them, press the button for assistance with unidentified item in the bagging area, pack them and load them into the car and bring them home.

At the other end of the scale, I could have ordered the stuff online. If I did that, the company would have sent someone around the store, or a robot around a supply depot, they would pack my groceries into bags and boxes, load it into a van, and then get a driver to take it to my house. Using their diesel. Saving me the time and fuel would just cost me a few euro and the inconvenience of making an arrangement to be there when the delivery arrived.

(The latter scenario is actually familiar to my parents’ generation – before the internet, there was still the concept of groceries being delivered. It would be a fairly constant selection of groceries, but there wasn’t as much variety in groceries at the time anyway.)

Somewhere in the middle is the situation we’re used to. I push my trolley to the check out and a person scans the items and tells me how much money they want me to give them. They need more floor space to provide this service, and pay someone to facilitate it.

Clearly the model where I do the scanning and packing and driving is the cheapest for the supermarket. They save money with my inconvenience. But there’s no saving to me. The airline that expects me to carry on my own luggage charges me less than when I check it in, but the supermarket that lets me scan my own groceries doesn’t give me a discount or incentive to do it. At the moment, all the supermarkets do the same, so there’s no incentive for any of them to change.

How long will it be before a supermarket gives a credit from the next visit’s shopping if you use the self service check-out?

And what has this to do with orthodontics?

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