The Big Change That May Be Coming To Kroger's Checkout Lines

Depending on your mood (and the crowdedness of your grocery store), going food shopping can be a joyful self-care act preparing you for the week ahead, or it can be a total nightmare. The checkout lane can be a big contributor to the more unpleasant trips. If you've been waiting to check out for so long that you start wondering about the real reason grocery store checkout lines are so narrow, maybe it's time to cut your losses and head for the self-checkout area instead. 

Self-checkouts can be just as frustrating, though. Thankfully, they no longer beep at you and set off their "customer needs help" alarms nearly as often as they did when they became commonplace in the early 2010s (via Forbes). However, self-checkouts are still slow if you're purchasing a large number of items. Individually removing each item from your cart, swiping, and bagging takes longer than loading all your items onto a conveyor belt the way you would at a staffed checkout line. 

There's some good news, though, as Kroger stores have come up with an innovative solution that promises to make self-checkout easier in more ways than one.

Kroger's new lanes hope to find a happy medium

Midwest grocery chain Kroger is adding a new kind of self-checkout lane, according to WCPO. Kroger will be adding the new belted lanes to 20 locations around Cincinnati. Thankfully, they're not the futuristic self-scanning carts Amazon is trying to pass off as a new way of giving Whole Foods shoppers a different check out experience. Hopefully, Kroger's experiment will be better than the one Amazon launched at its own stores in 2020, which Forbes called "silly."

What Kroger is debuting is something like a half-service lane where you do the scanning while a bagger bags your groceries at the end of the conveyor belt. The idea effectively eliminates the "unscanned item in the bagging area" error that arises if you so much as breathe too close to the area now. The belts may also help reduce shrink loss — or shoppers leaving the store with unpaid items — a surprisingly large problem with self-checkout lines, according to a separate Forbes article. On the consumer side, it's hoped that the new conveyor belt self-checkouts and their generous bagging area will reduce consumer frustration and item loss.

So far, the new checkout lanes have been positively received by customers. In fact, they've been so popular with shoppers that their reception is the reason Kroger decided to expand its footprint. The hope is for these lanes to offer a happy medium between traditional checkout lanes and self-checkout areas that still cut labor costs for the market without sacrificing customer happiness.