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Boise Albertsons location replaces checkstands with all self checkouts in trial program

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Albertsons Companies is testing out an idea: A store without traditional checkout lanes.

The conveyor belts are gone at the store at Five Mile Rd. and Ustick Rd. in Boise. But so are the checkers punching buttons and scanning items behind a piece of plexiglass.

Instead, customers can choose from a beefed-up array of self-checkouts, with staff nearby to help.

Kathy Holland, who handles communications and public relations for the Boise-based grocery giant’s Intermountain Division, said the store is one of two in the company participating in the pilot program.

“At our Albertsons Five Mile and Ustick location, we are transitioning our traditional lanes to assisted checkout lanes as part of a pilot program,” Holland told BoiseDev. “The decision to transition this location was based on extensive research of the available technologies, the customer market area, and the store traffic and checkout patterns.”

How it works

Expanded “20 items or more” self-checkout area. Photo: Don Day/BoiseDev

The program, which just launched, guides customers to self-checkouts by their basket size: 10 items or less, about 15 items, and 20 items or more. Albertsons replaced the previous small number of self-checkouts with more than two dozen. In the pods marked 20 items or more, there’s a much larger area to bag groceries than the traditional self-checkouts.

When we visited Thursday morning, the store had more staff members than customers. Many, dressed in blue shirts touting “we’re here to help,” guided customers to the self-checkouts and, in several instances we saw, did the checkout operation for customers.

“With the assisted checkout lanes, each checkout station will be equipped with a ‘checker assist’ feature which will allow the assisted checkout attendant to assist the customer similarly to the way that a traditional checker would, providing extra support for our guests,” Holland said.

She noted that the ‘assisted checkout attendants’ would be particularly helpful during “busy times and holiday seasons to ensure guests are taken care of in a timely manner.”

Staff still available

Courtesy clerks – the folks who help bag groceries and help carry them out to customers’ cars- will remain in place, Holland said.

Though not readily in place Thursday, workers at the store that ‘check as you go’ carts would also be added to the store. As BoiseDev first reported last fall, carts from vendor Veeve allow customers to add items to the specially-designed cart as they shop, and AI features and cameras would mean they could skip checking out altogether by providing a credit card on the cart itself.

Holland didn’t directly answer a question about staffing changes but said that “all” cashiers would move to new roles assisting customers with the self-checkout lanes.

Holland noted that the chain isn’t the first to make this change. She’s right. Another industry giant – Walmart – is testing the same concept in its hometown, Fayetteville, Arkansas. In place since 2020, Walmart’s program is similar – lots of self-checkouts, hosts nearby — but uses a different layout with a large open area ringed with stands.

For now, the company doesn’t have plans to roll the program out beyond the two pilot stores.

Don Day - BoiseDev Editor & Founder
Don Day - BoiseDev Editor & Founder
Don is the founder and publisher of BoiseDev. He is a National Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Stanford University John S. Knight Fellow. Contact him at [email protected].

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