AMB201 Marketing & Audience Research

Qualitative Research Topic and Interview Guide (Part 2) – Topic A

Topic: Usage of self-serve technology in grocery stores


The prevalence of self-serve technology has increased over the past decades in a range of industries involving customer service, and this looks set to continue. Early introductions like self-serve petrol bowsers and automatic teller machines are now common place and have become expected by consumers. More recent introductions include self-serve check-in kiosks at airports and self-serve checkouts in grocery stores. Consumer reaction to these most recent additions has been a little mixed, particularly within the grocery industry. Data from Nielsen (2017) indicate that many consumers have embraced this technology in grocery stores, but not all (see figure below). For anyone working in a consumer-oriented field where self-serve technology is employed, or is likely to be employed in the future, it is important to understand the consumer experience, motivations for use, and who the most/least receptive people are likely to be.

Some initial reading:

An interesting read to get you thinking about the diversity of perspectives on self-serve technology in grocery stores is a recent article by Mortimer and Dootson (2017). Be sure to read the comments left by readers to gain some initial insights that you might not have considered. Note that you must also consult other literature beyond this for your assignment (particularly academic sources where relevant).

Mortimer, G. S. & Dootson, P. (2017, June 13). The economics of self-service checkouts. The Conversation. Retrieved from checkouts-78593

Research Problem/Question

What influences usage of self-serve technology in grocery stores?

Population of Interest and Project Focus

The target audience is English speaking Australian adults who have previously used self-serve technology (checkouts) when purchasing groceries. For the purposes of the AMB201 project, we consider only self-serve checkout terminals in physical stores, and exclude self-serve technology used as part of online purchases. For our purposes, we will not consider other forms of self-serve technology.

Research Objectives

Specific objectives of this project:

i)       To explore experiences with self-serve technology in grocery stores;

ii)      To examine motivations for using self-serve technology in grocery stores;

iii)    To understand the types of people who use self-serve technology in grocery stores.

Interview Guide and Suggested Questions

Interview Process:

1.      Thank the participant for agreeing to take part in the interview, and introduce the topic (example script below).

Thank you for agreeing to participate in this interview. In order to be able to answer the questions, you must be an Australian adult who has previously used self-serve technology when purchasing groceries – specifically, self-serve checkouts. Have you used these before? [If they have not done so, politely thank them and discontinue the interview.  Otherwise continue…]

There are no right or wrong answers to the questions that we will discuss. I am simply interested in your opinions and experiences. Please feel free to elaborate on your responses, as the extra detail will help to answer my research questions.

This is a completely confidential conversation. Your name will not be linked to your responses in the final report, and your details will not be used for any other purpose by QUT.

2.     Explain the process and requirements of the interview (example script below).

Today’s process involves an interview. I expect it will take about 30 minutes.

[If applicable] I would like to record the interview, so that I can transcribe the conversation for analysis purposes. Is that okay?

3.      Confirm that the respondent is at least 18 years old and obtain signed consent using the form provided on Blackboard.  If the participant does not wish to sign the consent form (or they are not yet 18), thank them for their time and discontinue the interview.  Start the process again with a new respondent.

Are you over 18 years of age? [discontinue interview if not yet 18].  I also require that you complete the ethical clearance form [provide form to respondent].  The ethical clearance form outlines that the research team will treat your information your details confidentially and that any information discussed here today will not be used to personally identify you in any publications or conference discussions.

4.      Begin the interview using the questions listed on the next page.  These are suggested questions only. You are not restricted to these questions and should add to them and change them as necessary, according to how the interview progresses.  It will be necessary to prompt for additional information if a respondent’s initial response does not provide much insight. Your goal is to obtain enough information/clarification  that will enable you to respond to the project objectives (note that some questions will be helpful in addressing more than one research objective).

Interview Items (project objectives are listed for your reference only)

Begin the interview by getting the respondent thinking about the topic. Questions:

a)    Can you tell me how frequently you usually shop for groceries (in-store, not online)?

b)    And do you normally buy a lot of things in one go, or just a few?

c)    Can you tell me about the first time you noticed self-serve checkouts in your grocery store?

Objective (i):        To explore experiences with self-serve technology in grocery stores.


d)     How long was it before you first tried using a self-serve checkout, and why did you try it?

e)     Do you remember your initial thoughts or reactions?

f)     How often have you used it since?

g)     How do you find the experience in general?

h)     Can you tell me about any particularly good or bad experiences with these?

i)     Is there anything you would change about these checkouts if you could?

Objective (ii):       To examine motivations for using self-serve technology in grocery stores.


j)    What types of reasons do you think usually lead people to use self-serve checkouts?

k)   And what about reasons for using a conventional checkout?

l)    Can you think of any reasons people might totally avoid or dislike self-serve checkouts?

m)  Why do you think stores have introduced this type of technology?

n)   Is this a good thing?

Objective (iii):      To understand the types of people who use self-serve technology in grocery stores.

o)   Do you think there are certain types of people who are particularly likely to use self-serve checkouts? Who are they?

p)   Are there people who you think will simply never use them? Why?

q)   Do you think this applies to self-serve technology in general (e.g., check-in kiosks at airports), or just checkouts? What about more established self-serve technologies like ATMs?

Round out the interview by asking the respondent some final general questions. Questions:

r)   What things might you say to someone who had never used a self-serve checkout if you wanted to encourage them to try it?

s)   Any thoughts on what this all suggests for retailers, if they want to encourage use?

t)      Is there anything else you would like to add that you think might be helpful in better understanding this topic?

5.     Thank the participant for their time.

6.     Transcribe the interview.