I know many of us here in West Central Missouri like shopping at Target. Whether that's because some prefer the merchandise more than Walmart, or it's store envy because we don't have one, the Bullseye is popular even though you have to head toward Columbia or Lee's Summit to shop there. Things at Target, however, might be a little different the next time you pop in to do some shopping.

One of the things Target noticed during the pandemic was that many folks preferred using self-checkout. You didn't need to interact with an employee, and no one else touched your merchandise. For some, that was pretty important.

Now that the pandemic is over, Target decided to examine how customers were using self-checkouts and started a pilot program in certain stores to test the concept of limiting self-checkouts to ten items or less. The result was that self-checkout was twice as fast for our pilot stores. Additionally, the retailer says customer feedback told them the overall checkout experience was better for those using self-checkout when they had a few items and going to a cashier with a full cart.

So the next time you drive into Columbia or the Kansas City area to visit Target, you'll need to go to a cashier if you have more than ten items, as self-checkout will not be an option for those with a cart full of items.

In addition to limiting self-checkout to those customers buying ten items or less, the store says they'll have more traditional lanes open across all their stores. Managers will have the flexibility to open more lanes when necessary, and managers can determine what hours their stores will offer self-checkout based on that store's needs.

I think this has much less to do with the customer experience and more to do with theft. According to Forbes, Target closed nine stores in four states in response to theft and retail crime. It wasn't just Forbes who reported the story, either. In November of last year, Yahoo! Finance reported that inventory shrink and retail theft were still weighing on the store.

While Yahoo! Finance outlined various measures the store was taking to combat theft, nothing was mentioned about problems with dishonesty at the self-checkouts. But I believe having folks with a full cart checked out by an employee is just another tool the giant retail chain is using to combat those tempted to help themselves to a five-finger discount at a self-checkout kiosk.

So yeah, if you like self-checkout, I hope you only plan on getting a few things in the store. Otherwise, you'll wait for the Target lady in the checkout lanes.

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