Why Trader Joe's Probably Won't Offer Self-Checkout Anytime Soon

Why do people love Trader Joe's? How much time do you have? The grocery store chain is known for its low prices and trendy snacks, with memes likening the shopping experience to therapy (via Let's Eat Cake). Every fall, 41 to 57-year-old Caucasian women making over $80,000 a year emerge from their homes, pumpkin spice lattes in hand, to scope out the latest autumnal items. Okay, we're being cheeky, but according to The Ascent, that is their most common demographic, though people all across the board love Trader Joe's.

The grocer is undoubtedly treasured for its fall items, including apple cider donuts, petite pumpkin spice cookies, and cinnamon bun spread. But some of their other products have become cult classics, like the notorious Everything But the Bagel Seasoning, which has been used in recipes by The New York Times, Starbucks, and more, according to Forbes. But Trader Joe's is more than its fun foods. The stores are curated to create a fun experience for customers. The space is designed around a nautical theme (including wooden produce crates), the signs are cute and funky, the aisles are narrow and frenetic, and their delicious foods have quirky packaging (via Insider). But one of the most cherished qualities of Trader Joe's stores today is also the reason they don't offer self-checkout.

It's all about the customer experience

If you've ever shopped at a Trader Joe's, your groceries were likely bagged and rung up by a pleasant, charismatic employee. As it turns out, that's not an accident. According to Forbes, you need to have a winning personality to work there, and the store allows employees to give freebies to customers having a bad day. Appropriately, one of the questions on the job application is, "Do you like to make people smile?" Employees must even wear Hawaiian shirts to create a fun, playful atmosphere.

Because they value their in-store workforce so highly, Trader Joe's most likely won't offer self-checkout anytime soon. It would go against the whole point of their checkout experience — interacting with a friendly employee. In an episode of the Inside Trader Joe's podcast, an employee said, "The bottom line is that our people remain our most valued resource. While other retailers were cutting staff and adding things like self-checkout, curbside pickup, and outsourcing delivery options, we were hiring more crew." While this also explains why Trader Joe's probably won't be offering delivery, the brand clearly wants customers inside their stores, talking to workers and leaving with smiles on their faces.