Finnish Grocer Testing Slow Checkout Lanes
K-citymarket, a supermarket in the city of Espoo, Finland, is experimenting with a slow-track checkout lane. The checkout is aimed for the elderly, mentally disabled, or any other customer who wants their shopping visit to be more relaxed.
The slow-track checkout process is adapted to the customer’s pace. For instance, it reserves time for some conversation. Customers can also their wait for their turn sitting in an armchair.
The supermarket, operated by the Kesko Group, is collaborating on the test with Finland’s Aalto University. Researchers at the university formed the idea of an unhurried checkout operation from a user survey which examined the everyday needs of mentally disabled youths living in Espoo.
“The survey results showed that, on one hand, a shopping visit was the highlight of their week, while on the other hand, it was a very pressurized situation in a cognitive and physical sense,” said industrial designer Sara Ikävalko of Aalto University, in a statement. “For many, the hectic nature of everyday social activities can be crucial for coping independently in the community.”
The grocer found that the project dovetailed with some existing initiatives to ease shopping. For example, its Omena Shopping Centre Hostess service features a person to assist and guide elderly people from one store to another.
“It was natural for us to join the project,” added Toni Pokela, the manager of the store participating in the slow-checkout test, in a statement. “This experiment is a good continuation of the service. Moreover, it seems that many other customer groups would also appreciate a more relaxed checkout operation. Small children, for example, like to sit in the armchairs while their parents pay at the checkout.”
The retailer will observe and monitor the launch of the slow-track checkout, including the staff and customer responses, before considering further expansion. Kesko operates 73 K-citymarkets in Finland.
Discussion Questions: Do think that U.S. checkouts have become too rushed for some customers? In what ways could supermarkets be looking to accommodate the needs of those who may want a less-hurried checkout experience?