Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Replaced by Technology?

Technology, Science, & the Environment ---

I shop at Whole Foods on a fairly regular basis, chiefly because it is near to my place of work and within easy access of the subway. I also shop at Trader Joe's on Broadway and 72nd Street, but less often than I do at Whole Foods. The latter is very much more sophisticated than the former, especially in the checking out process. At Whole Foods, as you stand on line to check out your items at the cash register, there is a computerized male or female voice announcing the number of the register to which you should proceed. You stand in your color-coded lane, and as the announcement is made your number flashes just overhead on the corresponding color (yellow, green, or blue) of your lane.  Each lane has its own computerized lane announcing the available register. 

At the 72nd Street Trader Joe's the process is somewhat different. When a register is available, the cashier waves a red flag, and an employee (these days called an associate) standing at the head of the two-lane queue would tell you the number of the register to which you should proceed. 

I am sure that the owner(s) of Trader Joe's are aware of the procedure used at Whole Foods, and I find myself wondering whether they are choosing to forgo the advantages of using technology (that would otherwise speed up the process) and are instead seeking to create a job for a person rather than give it to a computer. It would be noble if that were the case, but the real reason is probably the hefty sum it would cost to put in place the system that Whole Foods uses.

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