Albertsons is removing self-checkout lanes from some stores when it remodels them, as the 650-store grocery chain stitches itself back together in the wake of a merger early this year. But there's no chain-wide plan to strip all stores of self-checkout.
Instead, decisions are being made on a store-by-store or division-by-division basis, according to Dennis McCoy, communications manager for the Boise regional division. In the case of three Albertsons stores in Boise, Idaho, that were reopened this month after remodeling, self-checkout was replaced with express checkout lanes. But "there's no grand plan" to do that throughout the chain, McCoy said.
Albertsons, which in 2006 was split by region into two chains with the same name, generated nationwide shopper confusion in 2011 when one of the chains announced that it would remove self-checkout from all its stores in the name of better customer service. That was promptly followed by the other chain with the same name announcing it was keeping self-checkout—and citing the same customer-service reason.
Since the two half-chains were officially reunited this year, Albertsons has been splitting the difference in programs that one side had but the other didn't. It eliminated its loyalty program (saying it didn't see a use for the customer data it collected), but preserved the mobile app and YouTube channel, and merged its two websites and Facebook pages. (It turns out that, even if the name and signage remains the same, there really can be a lot of divergence in six or seven years.)
While the two half-chains also had to merge other systems behind the scenes, including point-of-sale and pharmacy systems, self-checkout was the most high-profile customer-facing difference remaining. And the to-have-or-have-not question will apparently remain for the foreseeable future.
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