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Ethnographic Observation - DOC

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									INFO 610 Analysis of Interactive Systems

     Ethnographic Observation- Part 1

    Study Topic: Self-Checkout Systems

                    By

            Vaida Kazakeviciute

            Aarthy Subramanian

               April 21, 2006
                                                       Table of Contents

Introduction ......................................................................................................................... 3
Study Method ...................................................................................................................... 3
Observations ....................................................................................................................... 3
   Supermarket – non Busy Environment ........................................................................... 3
   Supermarket –Busy Environment ................................................................................... 4
   Grocery Store – non Busy Environment ......................................................................... 4
   Grocery Store – Busy Environment ................................................................................ 5
System: ................................................................................................................................ 5
Observations: ...................................................................................................................... 6
Conclusion .......................................................................................................................... 6
Design Implications ............................................................................................................ 7
Resources Used ................................................................................................................... 7
Introduction

The topic of study for our Ethnographic Observation is ‘Self-Checkout Systems’. We

observed shoppers using self-checkout systems that are located at the supermarkets (Stop

& Shop) and grocery stores (Giant) for our project. A Self-Checkout is a system that

enables shoppers to scan and pay for their purchases by themselves without any human-

assistance.


Study Method

We conducted the study by observing the users of self-checkout system from a short

distance and also by using the system ourselves. To get better results we observed users

in two different scenarios: in the middle of the week in the morning and on a weekend

later in the afternoon. We wanted to compare the busy versus non busy environment and

how it affected the usage of the self checkout systems.


Observations

This section is split in four parts summarizing observations:

   1. Supermarket – non busy environment ( Monday morning)

   2. Supermarket – busy environment (Saturday afternoon )

   3. Grocery store –non busy environment (Wednesday morning)

   4. Grocery store – busy environment (Wednesday evening)



Supermarket – non Busy Environment

Place: Stop & Shop food retailer.

Date: Monday morning, 10:30AM
System: EZ Shopper Self-Checkout System by Productivity Solutions Inc.

Observations:

   1. In 30 minutes, three people used the self checkout system.

   2. People in the age range of 20-35 used the system.

   3. None of the people had an item that had to be weighed.

   4. One person had trouble scanning an item, so he just left item in the store and did

       not buy it.

Supermarket –Busy Environment

Place: Stop & Shop food retailer.

Date: Saturday afternoon, 4:30PM

System: EZ Shopper Self Checkout system by Productivity Solutions Inc.

Observations:

   1. A total of seven people used the self checkout system in 30min.

   2. People in the age range of 20-60 used the system.

   3. None of the people had an item that had to be weighed.

   4. Four people, who were elderly, had problems with scanning items. Human

       assistance was needed.

Grocery Store – non Busy Environment

Place: Giant Stores

Day and Time: Wednesday Morning, 11AM

System: U-Scan Self-Checkout System

   1. In 30 minutes, five shoppers used the system for checkout

   2. The age range of shoppers using the system seemed to be 25 to 40

   3. Most of the users paid by credit/debit cards
   4. All the users had 10 or less items.

Grocery Store – Busy Environment

Place: Giant Stores

Day and Time: Wednesday Evening, 5 PM

System: U-Scan Self-Checkout System

   1. In 30 minutes, ten shoppers used the self-checkout system

   2. The age range of shoppers was 20 to 50

   3. Four of the users had just one or two items to checkout

   4. One of the shoppers required help in scanning an item


System:

Both systems had the following features:

   1. Grocery Cart-A small space for hand-carried carts and a holding area for larger
      carts.
   2. Scanner- A device used to scan the items.
   3. Bagging Area- Space where shopper can put scanned items into plastic bags.
   4. Touch Screen Display
   5. Credit/Debit card scanner
   6. Receipts area where printed receipts appear
   7. Cash and coupon scanner

 While using the self-checkout systems, in both Giant and Shop & Stop, the shopper has

to make a choice beforehand if he/she will be using the store’s bonus card and once this

choice is made, the billing screen comes up. Shoppers scan items one by one. After they

scan all the items they choose a payment method, to pay by credit/debit card or cash. If

they choose to pay by card, there is a credit card processing system present along with the

self-checkout system. If they wish to pay by cash, they pay to the cashier sitting at the

end of the checkout area. Once the shopper pays for all purchased items, the receipt

comes out of the system and the shopper is ready to go.
Observations:

        While scanning a product for the first time, some users took more time than for

the successive scans. For the first few items, they took some time to scan and checked the

screen each time to verify. It seemed like they wanted to verify that they had scanned

correctly and the right price is showing up. A few customers with small children took

more time than others because they were managing the children along with performing

the checkout themselves.

From the observation, customers with large number of items seemed to go to the human-

assisted checkout systems; only shoppers with less number of items seemed to use the

self-checkout system. Also, most people using the self checkout system paid by

credit/debit card, only one or two people in each observation paid by cash and went to the

cashier after scanning all the items. The other observation was that when there was no

queue in the human-assisted checkout people chose to go there. Only when there was a

queue of more than three or four people, shoppers opted for the self-checkout system.


Conclusion


Based on the observations, we come to the conclusion that the self check out system is

used more during the peak hours and weekends when there are more people shopping.

Also, it seemed to us that young people use the system more often than the older people.

People preferred the traditional human-assisted billing counters over the Self-Checkout

systems when both were available. Older people seemed to have more problems with the

system and those were the kind of problems that could only be solved by human
assistance. The most common problem that people seemed to have is trouble scanning an

item.


Design Implications

From our initial findings, it is evident that the main issue users have with the system is

scanning the items. If the barcode is not clearly captured by the scanner, the item doesn’t

get scanned and as the result human-assistance is needed to manually enter the item. The

problem in the use of self-checkout machines seems to be the lack of consistency and

location of barcodes in packaging. The user has to locate the bar codes, and then

understand how to navigate the system to fix the problem. The intent of checkout system

is to speed up the process, but if mistakes are made the entire process slows down [Jung,

2005]. This is an area where the system designers can focus to enable users to handle

such situations with ease and without human-assistance.


Resources Used

Jung C. (2005). Interface Design Issues #05: A plethora of design problems. Design By

Fire. http://www.designbyfire.com/000062.html

								
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