There aren’t many of these self checkout counters in Singapore. This one pictured here is at Cold Storage in Tanglin Mall. Retailers here are probably being a little cautious about how this will work in Singapore. Would customers here be receptive to checking out themselves? Would they know how to operate the checkout system? Would they be honest with properly checkout out all of their shopping items?
I’ve been trying to use this system here at Tanglin Mall. But I’ve never succeeded. Either the system was not available, or it would appear to be available and then something mucks up, thus preventing me from using it.
Like this time around. Apparently someone had used the system halfway. There were some items already captured. But there was no one there. I suppose whoever that customer was gave up for one reason or another. Definitely not because the system was hung, because I could still use the system, navigate to payment, go back, etc. But I could not abandon the current checkout session to start over. There was no way to delete the already scanned items either.
So I asked for assistance. A cashier came over. The solution, apparently, was to reboot the whole system. I was told it would take 5 minutes or more. I thought I’d wait a little while to watch the reboot. Maybe it wouldn’t take that long. In the process, I got to see how the GUI was running on X, and that underlying it was a Linux system. It was, not surprisingly, a standard PC. Sort of. I’d think a standard PC would have been faster. This one was very slow. Then when it booted up again, I could see it was running some sort of RHEL/Fedora/CentOS type of distribution.
Unfortunately, it really took too long for the system to come back up. When the Linux was up, and the GUI checkout application was eventually loaded, it still had to go about initializing various devices, and then ultimately just sat there stuck waiting for goodness knows what.
Not wanting to wait there all day, I eventually moved over to a counter manned by a human cashier.
Somebody needs to look into the usability of this self checkout. Surely cancelling a checkout is not something unheard of? Haven’t you seen cases at the counters where customers “abandon” the checkout because they needed to get more items?
Strangely the self checkout had been designed to be less useful than the conventional checkout registers.
I wonder when in Singapore we will see self checkout becoming commonplace. Something high-tech like Apple’s self checkout via an iOS app wold be rather nice.