Best Retail Self-Checkout UI and Why

15 Dec 2006 - 9:52am
8 years ago
9 replies
1252 reads
Tom Ollar
2005

I've tried several of these at the supermarket and Wal-Mart but have yet to
be impressed.

Anyone seen one that really rocked?

And if so, what made it good?

Tom Ollar
Datron, Inc.

Comments

15 Dec 2006 - 10:02am
Mark Schraad
2006

Simply - Nope!

My local grocer makes me (once all items are scanned) switch between the main screen and the ATM like device several times. At the same time I switch between physical and software buttons. Given that there are only 3 main manufacturers of ATM equipment (one of which is Diebold) you would think usability, experience design and consistency would be a well placed investment.

Mark

On Friday, December 15, 2006, at 10:57AM, "Tom Ollar" <tom at blix.net> wrote:
>I've tried several of these at the supermarket and Wal-Mart but have yet to
>be impressed.
>
>Anyone seen one that really rocked?
>
>And if so, what made it good?
>
>Tom Ollar
>Datron, Inc.
>
>________________________________________________________________
>Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
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>
>

15 Dec 2006 - 10:11am
Bill Bulman
2006

Tom,

Having looked at several of them for a project about a year ago, we
found that most have serious usability issues and are just rather
cumbersome to use. The issues come up when the number of products
the user is purchasing becomes more than 3-4 items and if they are
purchasing produce. Most of the time users dont know if they picked
up an Barlett pear or a Andoj Pear. How are they supposed to find
the correct number for the produce using screens if the produce
sticker isnt on the fruit?

I think some of the best experiences I saw were Home Depot and Super
Fresh. Having spent time with users on both Home Depot's was pretty
simple and just worked, and Super Fresh had a screen displaying
pictures of commonly purchased produce that allowed users to choose
from that dramatically decreased entry problems.

I still think there really isn't a standard best of breed out there,
at least in what I have seen and experienced.

I'd be interested to see what others think...

-bill

On Dec 15, 2006, at 10:52 AM, Tom Ollar wrote:

> I've tried several of these at the supermarket and Wal-Mart but
> have yet to
> be impressed.
>
> Anyone seen one that really rocked?
>
> And if so, what made it good?
>
> Tom Ollar
> Datron, Inc.
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
> List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
> (Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
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> Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
> Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org

Bill Bulman
Partner
Messagefirst, Inc.
--------------------------------------
p 215.825.7423
c 610.812.0840
f 215.825.7425
e bill at messagefirst.com
w messagefirst.com
billbulman.com
--------------------------------------
Making information usable.
Beautifully.

15 Dec 2006 - 12:34pm
jbellis
2005

Tom,
I noticed that Home Depot's system supports what I propose to call the
"primary interface" (or 'flow' ugh), in that you can ignore every prompt and
do only the most minimal actions: scan, pay, leave. Even though the grocery
store might have different challenges than dry goods, I think the machine
should honor the 'nominal interaction.' When I tried to get some consensus
from the group, there was just a loud snoring sound, but I don't know if
that implies anything about the lack of standards:
http://lists.interactiondesigners.com/pipermail/discuss-interactiondesigners.com/2006-October/012166.html
-Jack
----- Original Message -----
Subject: [IxDA Discuss] Best Retail Self-Checkout UI and Why

> I've tried several of these at the supermarket and Wal-Mart but have yet
to
> be impressed.
>
> Anyone seen one that really rocked?
>
> And if so, what made it good?
>
> Tom Ollar
> Datron, Inc.

15 Dec 2006 - 12:57pm
Katie Albers
2005

I find Home Depot's system to be so painful to use I'll stand in a half
hour line with a single item (and I have...then I stopped going to Home
Depot...I'm in the middle of a major home renovation and I won't go to Home
Depot - what does that tell you?).

If you do anything differently from the unexpressed way it wants you to,
the whole thing blows up in your face. For example, the first time I tried
it, I wanted to check the label on something I'd already run through, so I
removed it from the bag and the process basically stopped working. The
system couldn't seem to figure out what to do when I put that item back
either...I hadn't scanned it (of course).

The slots that have to do with the finance are so far removed from the
parts of the interface that are concerned with ringing up merchandise, that
I initially didn't even realize that they were part of the same transaction.

Moving back and forth between the software portions of the interface and
the hardware portions of the interface is nightmarish...and while it
probably made sense to somebody, somewhere, I can't imagine who or how.

I could go on and on about the failings of those machines and others that
fulfill similar functions, but it hardly seems worth it. Basically, I can't
imagine why these machines were developed when the industry's technology
developers still can't grasp that having multiple ways of okaying a
transaction on a card swiper -- only one of which works at any point in
each transaction -- is a bad idea.

Katie

=============
Katie Albers
User Experience Strategist

Original Message:
-----------------
From: jackbellis.com jackbellis at hotmail.com
Date: Fri, 15 Dec 2006 13:34:25 -0500
To: discuss at ixda.org
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Best Retail Self-Checkout UI and Why

Tom,
I noticed that Home Depot's system supports what I propose to call the
"primary interface" (or 'flow' ugh), in that you can ignore every prompt and
do only the most minimal actions: scan, pay, leave. Even though the grocery
store might have different challenges than dry goods, I think the machine
should honor the 'nominal interaction.' When I tried to get some consensus
from the group, there was just a loud snoring sound, but I don't know if
that implies anything about the lack of standards:
http://lists.interactiondesigners.com/pipermail/discuss-interactiondesigners
.com/2006-October/012166.html
-Jack
----- Original Message -----
Subject: [IxDA Discuss] Best Retail Self-Checkout UI and Why

> I've tried several of these at the supermarket and Wal-Mart but have yet
to
> be impressed.
>
> Anyone seen one that really rocked?
>
> And if so, what made it good?
>
> Tom Ollar
> Datron, Inc.

________________________________________________________________
Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
(Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
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Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org

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15 Dec 2006 - 1:30pm
.pauric
2006

An issue with the Home Depot devices is inherent distrust in the design.
The system knows the weight of every item. The thinking is to catch out
thieves who place bar codes from a cheaper item on to a more expensive
product. So, the process breaks down if;
You arent able to balance that 12 foot plank in to the plastic bag,
You move anything off the checkout scale before payment to make more space,
You have 12 bags of bolts and try to scan one bag 12 times.

List goes on, all because one of the primary requirements was to not trust
the user.

My understanding of why some grocery chains have this dual scan/pos
interface is that the the self scan hardware is 'bolted on' to the existing
POS processes these shops have in place. Two pieces of hardware, customer
is the system integrator - 'nuff said.

--
Jnr. designabilityhitect & interinfofaceactioneer.
The more I learn, the less I seem to know.

15 Dec 2006 - 3:53pm
Jason Perez
2006

I too have tried these at Home Depot, Walmart and a few supermarkets. For
me, they all have issues. Maybe it's just asking too much and not giving
enough back in return.

If we were to break out the basic steps of checking out we might see why:

1. Present selected items to buy.
2. Scan items.
3. Give customer the total.
4. Pay for items.

So in a standard checkout line we have 1 and 4 being done by the customer.
The customer does work up front and then waits for the checker to do their
thing, then pays. But in self checkout the customer accepts adding number 2
to their role in exchange for some benefit to them, maybe a chance at
checking out faster (I guess it could be to simply avoid human interaction).
We introduce the system to a new role of handling number 3.

I think the real win with these systems will come when the system can do
number 3, scan items. Maybe Walmart can be the first to do this since they
are already hot and heavy on RFID.

15 Dec 2006 - 3:39pm
Fiore, Nina
2006

My husband and I renovated our house last year and home depot's
self-checkout was a nightmare. (Though Shaw's super markets in Boston
has a similar one; just as bad.) No matter what we did, it would go
into a "danger, will robinson"-esque "item removed from bagging area"
loop that we couldn't get out of until an employee came over and hit
some type of "reset" button to stop it. Using it always made us feel
the way you do when a tag is on your clothes and the store alarm goes
off. I agree about standing in line for an hour with one item to just
avoid it. :)

Nina
-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of
Bill Bulman
Sent: Friday, December 15, 2006 11:11 AM
To: Tom Ollar
Cc: discuss at ixdg.org; discuss at lists.interactiondesigners.com
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Best Retail Self-Checkout UI and Why

Tom,

Having looked at several of them for a project about a year ago, we
found that most have serious usability issues and are just rather
cumbersome to use. The issues come up when the number of products the
user is purchasing becomes more than 3-4 items and if they are
purchasing produce. Most of the time users dont know if they picked up
an Barlett pear or a Andoj Pear. How are they supposed to find the
correct number for the produce using screens if the produce sticker isnt
on the fruit?

I think some of the best experiences I saw were Home Depot and Super
Fresh. Having spent time with users on both Home Depot's was pretty
simple and just worked, and Super Fresh had a screen displaying pictures
of commonly purchased produce that allowed users to choose from that
dramatically decreased entry problems.

I still think there really isn't a standard best of breed out there, at
least in what I have seen and experienced.

I'd be interested to see what others think...

-bill

On Dec 15, 2006, at 10:52 AM, Tom Ollar wrote:

> I've tried several of these at the supermarket and Wal-Mart but have
> yet to be impressed.
>
> Anyone seen one that really rocked?
>
> And if so, what made it good?
>
> Tom Ollar
> Datron, Inc.
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org List Guidelines
> ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/ List Help ..................
> http://listhelp.ixda.org/ (Un)Subscription Options ...
> http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
> Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
> Questions .................. lists at ixda.org Home
> ....................... http://ixda.org/ Resource Library ...........
> http://resources.ixda.org

Bill Bulman
Partner
Messagefirst, Inc.
--------------------------------------
p 215.825.7423
c 610.812.0840
f 215.825.7425
e bill at messagefirst.com
w messagefirst.com
billbulman.com
--------------------------------------
Making information usable.
Beautifully.

________________________________________________________________
Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org List Guidelines
............ http://listguide.ixda.org/ List Help ..................
http://listhelp.ixda.org/ (Un)Subscription Options ...
http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
Questions .................. lists at ixda.org Home .......................
http://ixda.org/ Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org

15 Dec 2006 - 4:50pm
Matt Attaway
2004

> I think the real win with these systems will come when the system can do
> number 3, scan items. Maybe Walmart can be the first to do this since
> they
> are already hot and heavy on RFID.
>

The new library they finished last month in my town is using a
self-checkout system based on RFID. It's wonderful. You put your stack of
books and movies on the table, scan your library card, and it prints out a
receipt. In the words of The Steve, Boom. You're done. It's fast and
completely painless.

Cheers,
Matt

15 Dec 2006 - 6:34pm
jbellis
2005

Katie,
Since you excerpted my post, some comments:
1) Keep in mind I didn't say I liked HDs system or that it was friendly. I
only said that unlike SuperFresh, it handled the minimal interface.
2) Regarding "slots that have to do with the finance are so far removed," I
wonder if we're talking about the identical implementation. I was in
suburban Philadelphia, PA USA. At mine, the distance was half that of
another system at a grocery.
3) The challenge of the scale that wieghs your purchase against your scanned
activity is something I heard about 10 years ago when these systems were
proposed, and every user in such a system must learn about. That doesn't
mean its friendly or forgiving, or that any new user should inherently know
about it. I too find the HD system extremely unforgiving under any
"exception" circumstances. (I scanned a can of spray paint and was
repeatedly given a meaningless message; the attendant needed to OK the
transaction because of the risk of graffiti artists getting it.) For the
foreseable future, these will all be "hybrid" systems, with a human
supervisor. What I challenge, in your post and others, is the notion that
every problem is a usability failure or showstopper. And this is from
someone who is(!) furious at those items that are outright failings... at
SuperFresh I was almost screaming at them when they changed systems to one
where they had to post a paper cheat sheet on the terminal, to tell people
the Salad Bar code.

Thanks, Jack

----- Original Message -----
From: <katie at firstthought.com>

>I find Home Depot's system to be so painful to use I'll stand in a half
> hour line with a single item (and I have...then I stopped going to Home
> Depot...I'm in the middle of a major home renovation and I won't go to
> Home
> Depot - what does that tell you?).
>
> If you do anything differently from the unexpressed way it wants you to,
> the whole thing blows up in your face. For example, the first time I tried
> it, I wanted to check the label on something I'd already run through, so I
> removed it from the bag and the process basically stopped working. The
> system couldn't seem to figure out what to do when I put that item back
> either...I hadn't scanned it (of course).
>
> The slots that have to do with the finance are so far removed from the
> parts of the interface that are concerned with ringing up merchandise,
> that
> I initially didn't even realize that they were part of the same
> transaction.
>
> Moving back and forth between the software portions of the interface and
> the hardware portions of the interface is nightmarish...and while it
> probably made sense to somebody, somewhere, I can't imagine who or how.
>
> I could go on and on about the failings of those machines and others that
> fulfill similar functions, but it hardly seems worth it. Basically, I
> can't
> imagine why these machines were developed when the industry's technology
> developers still can't grasp that having multiple ways of okaying a
> transaction on a card swiper -- only one of which works at any point in
> each transaction -- is a bad idea.
>
> Katie
>
> =============
> Katie Albers
> User Experience Strategist
>

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