Get ready for the robotic command ‘unexpected item in the bagging area’ to return.
Get ready for the robotic command ‘unexpected item in the bagging area’ to return.

Maddening self serve feature coming back

Woolworths are returning weigh scales to the self-service check-out area to cut down on the amount of items being stolen.

The weighing in the bagging area, paired with the robotic command "unexpected item in the bagging area", was switched off a number of years ago but the supermarket giant is joining its rival Coles in turning it back on.

RELATED: How Aldi checkout workers are able to scan items so fast

RELATED: Coles installs cameras at self-serve check-outs

Woolworths says the change, which will be rolled out to all stores, will also avoid customers being overcharged because of scanning mistakes.

"Self-serve check-outs are popular and the vast majority of customers have no trouble scanning the right items," a spokesperson from the supermarket giant said.

"From time to time, we see customers scan the wrong items, so we've turned on weigh scales to help shoppers validate the right items are going through.

"We know customers like self-serve for its speed and ease and have extra team members on deck to help keep our customers moving as we implement this new measure."

The extra security measure comes after it was revealed both Coles and Woolworths are trialling the use of new camera technology at the self-service check-outs.

Security cameras will keep an eye on the check-outs at Coles.
Security cameras will keep an eye on the check-outs at Coles.

Coles confirmed to news.com.au last month it had begun using cameras so shoppers can see themselves scan their items, and hopefully think twice before bagging those few extra birds eye chillies.

"While the large majority of our customers do the right thing, it's not fair that a small number of people get away with doing the wrong thing," a Coles spokesperson said.

"There are also trained covert security officers in our stores nationally and they're catching hundreds of thieves every week and reporting them to police."

The Australian Retailers Association estimates all forms of shoplifting across the retail sector costs $9.5 billion a year.

ARA executive director Russell Zimmerman told The Courier Mail supermarkets were "looking much closer" at discouraging theft, including by using new technology.

The return of the weighing feature has many consumers annoyed, however, with many venting their frustration on Facebook.

"You recently added weight checking to self serve checkout bagging areas. Please get rid of it - it's inaccurate and drives people nuts," one user said.

And another: "I was doing my weekly grocery shop earlier today and needed assistance around half a dozen times."

HOW DO ALDI ASSISTANTS SCAN ITEMS SO FAST?

When shopping at supermarket chain Aldi, it's hard not to notice the pace the checkout lines move compared to its competitors, as the assistants swipe products one after the other in a blink of an eye.

The long conveyor belts contribute to the organisation of the exit but it's the small difference on the packaging that allows payment to occur faster than it does at rivals Woolworths and Coles.

Each item has multiple or enlarged barcodes to make it easier for the scanner to pick up what is being moved through to the bagging area.

"Aldi's check-outs operate with industry-leading efficiency," a company spokesperson told new.com.au.

"Each of our registers feature long conveyor belts allowing customers to unload their trolleys in one go, and many of our products carry multiple barcodes to make it easier for our retail assistants to scan each product."

Continue the conversation on Twitter @James_P_Hall or james.hall1@news.com.au


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