Shoppers in Beijing and Hangzhou have become the first in China to try out supermarkets that allow them to pay for items themselves, or, in some cases, not pay at all.
The company, Zhima Credit (芝麻信用), set up self-service stores as an experiment to test shoppers’ honesty.
Allowing customers to pay through an online payment system (支付宝) or with cash, the self-checkout saved loads of time and prevented long queues. But of course, the system also opened up to various shoplifting techniques.
Several customers walked out with expensive items that they hadn’t paid for, while one left 10 yuan at the checkout counter and walked off with packs of cigarettes and bottles of liquor. The Hangzhou store sold 16,700 yuan in goods but only received 13,700 yuan, losing around 3,000 yuan.
Several netizens expressed that trust is a bigger issue in China than in Western countries, which is why self-service supermarkets had not yet been introduced here. According to an online survey conducted by Sina, 74 percent of respondents believe self-checkouts will not work in China, while another 22.6 percent say that cheating at a self-checkout machine is “understandable”. The truth is, self-checkouts spawn shoplifters not only in China, but everywhere else too.
Even though many customers did not pay the full amount, Zhima Credit believes that more and more people are realizing the importance of trust. “After this experiment, we are very confident with the value of trust in Chinese society,” the company said.
[Images via People.cn]
By Sharon Choi