A third of self-checkout supervisors recieve verbal abuse from shoppers multiple times a week, a new study of 6,000 retail workers has found.
The research by the University of Leicester on behalf of ECR Retail Loss found that most staff managing self-checkouts in supermarkets ‘cannot cope’ with the amount of machines they run.
For 84% of supervisors surveyed, they believed one to six machines per member of staff to be the most suitable number.
However, the study found that 38% are currently expected to manage seven or more while almost two thirds admitted to being overwhelmed by this.
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“While correlation does not equal causation, it would seem likely that as staff members have to deal with a greater number of machines and associated alerts and problems, levels of customer frustration are also likely to grow, which in turn could spill over into violence and verbal abuse,” University of Leicester emeritus professor and report author Adrian Beck said.
Non-scanning of items was found to the the most common misuse of self-checkout systems by shoppers, while 51% of those surveyed said they believed all losses came as a result of malicious customer behaviour.
Beck added: “The research has highlighted how important people are in this process.
“But if they are to be successful, they must be given a manageable workload, receive high-quality training, be supported with technologies that help them to focus upon the customers, transactions and events that matter, and operate in a space that is well designed, and above all, enables a zone of control to be maintained.”