Swedish alcohol monopoly Systembolaget to trial self-checkout tills

Swedish alcohol monopoly store Systembolaget will roll out self-checkout tills in two of its stores.

Swedish alcohol monopoly Systembolaget to trial self-checkout tills
Systembolaget's stated purpose is to reduce alcohol consumption in Sweden. Photo: Ari Luostarinen/SvD/TT

The trial will begin in Systembolaget in Torsplan, Stockholm, and Kungsgatan, Örebro, and will be tested between September 13th, 2021, and May 2022.

“Surveys show that many of our customers want to be able to shop smoothly and easily when they shop for one or a few items, which is why we are testing self-checkout counters in a couple of stores,” a statement from the agency explained.

“Customers will be able to choose the cash register with self-checkout, where we have employees on site to ensure that Systembolaget’s sales rules are followed. Since alcohol is not like other goods, we will carry out the self-checkout in our own way. For us, it is important that customers should always be able to trust that we sell responsibly, with consideration for everyone,” Emil Agén, store manager at the Torsplan branch, said. 

In these shops, people would have their ID checked manually on entry to the shop. Customers would then be free to choose their items, scan them at the self-checkout till, and pay by themselves without a staff member, as is already possibly at many supermarkets and other shops with self-checkouts.

Systembolaget is a state-owned company responsible for reducing alcohol consumption in Sweden, which means buying alcohol is quite different to most European countries. You’ll never see discounts or special offers, alcohol cannot be sold chilled, and the stores are subject to restrictive opening hours.

In fact, it’s only in the last 30 years that customers have been allowed to browse the shelves freely. Before then, shoppers needed to ask staff for specific products, a system intended to discourage buying large amounts. Sweden’s final shop to switch to being self-service was in southern Stockholm, only making the change in 2014. 

Systembolaget said the latest change is an effort to respond to new customer behaviours and to give staff extra time to offer advice to shoppers. Systembolaget shop attendants are on hand to give advice both about drinking safely, and how to pair alcohol with food.

As for whether the change will be rolled out to an alcohol store near you, the decision will be made based on surveys of customers (including to see if the change influences the amount of alcohol bought) and interviews with staff.

Member comments

  1. I have been wondering why SB works as a limiting system? After all one can tax alcohol and sell it everywhere. I came to the conclusion that the reason why it works, is that going to SB is a well precise effort, it cannot be casual. At the end of the day, for me at least, it is such a pain in the ass that I can forget about it and stay sober.

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