Kmart cops social media backlash after store layouts and self-service checkouts fail to impress shoppers

Emma Koehn /


Source: AAP Image/Paul Miller

Kmart Australia has received hundreds of complaints on social media after the roll-out of recent stores redesigns, with many shoppers upset over the position of checkouts in the centre of some of the retailer’s stores.

On Wednesday night the retailer took to Facebook to assure its shoppers that its self-serve checkouts were designed for customer convenience and “more efficient purchasing” and that manned registers are also available in store.

The post has been met with more than 1100 comments, including complaints about confusion over store attendants stopping shoppers when exiting the store and asking to inspect their bags, despite purchases being made at checkouts located in the centre of the stores.

“Having these checkouts at the centre of the shop is the silliest thing you’ve ever done,” wrote one customer on Facebook. “It puts so much pressure on the staff at the door.”

“What annoys me is when I’ve walked all the way to the front of store to find the self-serve checkouts are closed off…..then have to walk back to the middle to serve myself….then walk out again to have to show my receipt to a worker at the door,” wrote another.

One shopper told SmartCompany the new store layout in Bendigo, Victoria, was challenging to navigate.

“I went in with my gran and she was pretty overwhelmed about it – we were trying to find a person but it’s a maze,” they said.

“We also then watched a security guard and woman argue about a spatula [at the exit] because she didn’t have her receipt, after paying in the centre of the store,” the shopper said. 

However, social media and communications expert Catriona Pollard believes Kmart has done the right thing by making a considered statement on social media in response to the complaints.

“When small business owners look at cases like this, it’s important to think strategically first, rather than emotionally,” she told SmartCompany.

When customers are on commenting sprees, it’s important to think of it as an opportunity, Pollard added.

“This is essentially a free focus group. Even if in this case you don’t answer every comment, this situation can highlight what a lot of people want or don’t want.”

There might not have been a lot of love for the store changes, but shoppers still seem to be on side with Kmart’s product offering.

“Still love shopping at Kmart,” wrote one shopper, despite worries on the new layout.

“Are you seriously not going to shop there?” wrote another. “Do you choose your doctor because they have a nice clinic or do you go to your doctor because your [sic] loyal?”

In a general fact sheet for the store refit plan, Kmart said it the manned checkouts in the centre of its stores are designed to assist customers when shopping.

“To assist our customers experience within the new store format we now have manned checkouts centrally located making them easier to locate for customers and visible from any position from within the store and leaving exits free of queues and clutter,” the company explains.

SmartCompany has contacted Kmart for further comment.

Emma Koehn

Emma Koehn is a former senior SmartCompany journalist.