• 2016.04.19
  • Supermarket Self-checkout Service
Australia introduced self-service gas stations even before my home country, Japan. And as for supermarkets, whereas the German ones have staff sitting behind cash registers, it seems Australians – who are not so insistent on receiving polite customer service – have readily accepted self-service checkouts too. 

A staff member serves customers while sitting behind a cash register

Large Australian supermarkets have installed self-service checkouts, or so-called “unmanned cash registers.” When they were first introduced, I thought it would just be more bother as I would have to do the cash register guy’s job myself! But when I’ve only bought a few items and can just go straight to self-service without waiting in a queue, I actually find them quite convenient. I mean, when you go to giant food supermarkets especially, some people are doing their whole week’s shopping and piling up their carts with food, drink and daily goods. If you line up behind them, you’ll be waiting for ages! 

So, how does a self-service checkout work? Well, firstly, you get it to read the barcodes of the items you are buying. For items without a bar code, such as fruits and vegetables, you can use a touch panel screen to find out product names, weigh items on scales and – when the price is displayed – move them onto a table with shopping bags. If you try to move your items without scanning your barcode or weighing them properly, an error message will appear.

Now, if this happens, there will always be a staff member standing by to help you. Once all of your goods have been priced, the payment screen appears and even asks whether you need a receipt or if you have a supermarket point card. If you possess such a card, simply hit “yes” and scan it in. 

You can pay by several means: cash, credit card, the Eftpos payment system via bank card, and a combination of card and cash. You can also use this checkout like an ATM and withdraw cash at zero charge - with withdrawal limits varying from store to store. From calculating your bill and taking payment to issuing a receipt, the checkout provides a continuous flow of services. 

photo 2
Put your shopping basket on the right, scan your barcodes to get the item prices, and then place your items in the bag on the left.
A list of fruits and vegetables is displayed on-screen.

One negative is that when you can’t be sure of the name of a fruit or vegetable, you might spend quite a bit time searching for it. Australian supermarkets sell a lot of things by weight, and items such as mangoes can have different brand names like “Kensington Pride” and “Calypso” – and varying prices! So if the seal on the fruit is missing, you can end up scratching your head as to what exactly you are buying! And as the machine can’t pick up these kinds of mistakes, it’s up to you to self-report to the best of your ability! 

es, the self-checkout service is convenient, but Australians who enjoy talking freely with others also view chats with cash register staff as part of the fun. That’s why manned cash registers will remain an important part of the Australian supermarket! 


  • Chieko Suganuma (maiden name : Nagura)
  • JobCompany employee

She moved to Australia in 2000. She worked for a Japanese-affiliated travel agency, and then started her current position at a construction company in 2014.On her days off, she enjoys making soy candles that is a hobby of mine and walking on the beach.She hope to share rare lifestyle information from the local area with you.

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