This Observed Life: Self-Checkout Personal Bag Delay

Individual: Brittany Barnes
Machine: Self-Checkout System(s)

Written description and illustration/diagram of the analyzed experience
I have a preference for self-checkout machines at participating stores. Additionally, I like to bring my own reusable bags. The number of bags I bring ranges from roughly 1-5 depending on how much I think I can carry that day, but having 1 bag or 30 causes the same problem: the machine prompts you to confirm if you plan on using your own bags, then doesn’t weigh them until you’ve put an item in the bagging area. This pauses the entire process due to the item weighing too much, until an associate makes him- or herself available to override it. I have never been able to avoid having this happen, and am often peeved at how long it takes for an associate to be able to provide help.


Presentation of design process


Description and concept sketches of proposed intervention
Instead of weighing the bags together with the first item, the bags will be weighed on their initial placement into the bagging area. This will occur after indicating that personal bags will be used (step 2). The machine will newly prompt to indicate how many bags are intended on being used (step 3), and then for the them to be placed into the bagging area (step 4).

Implementation will not require any additional hardware or installation. The personal bags will simply be placed onto the bagging area, however, the software will now be storing the initial weight of the bags and the machine will check for marginal discrepancies (step 5). If the initial weight is too sensitive to be recorded accurately, the machine will check if the actual weight is equal to the total weight of the bags and the first item’s weight (step 6). An associate will only be required if there is a marginal difference between the weights (either way it is being checked).




An example of how a personal bag would initially have just been tossed into the bagging area, and the user has continued to scan items and place them into the area.


Written reflection on the challenges of designing for yourself
I found designing for myself a little tricky. It was strange not to have anyone to compare ideas with, which somehow took me even longer to decide on a solution, because I kept wondering if I was missing something obvious that a teammate might have mentioned. Additionally, I feel like my creativity was not as stimulated. Right away I had a solution in mind, and it was hard to even try and think of other interventions without the spark of various ideas that you would normally see in a team environment. Additionally, I felt like it made my solution more biased, even when I was avidly trying to avoid this. Furthermore, I found myself sometimes skipping over some things that were definitely in my head, but were so obvious to me that I didn’t recognize that I should be documenting them. These things went unnoticed until further review, where I noticed there were gaps, after which I had to reanalyze or recreate to incorporate these “obvious” bits that I had mistakenly left out due to familiarity.

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