Self-scanning checkouts in grocery stores have proved only a mixed success, so it's only natural that some supermarket chains now want to create even more "opportunity" for customers to handle the tedious checkout chore themselves.
Kroger, Stop and Shop and Giant grocery chains in the US are in various stages of testing or rolling out handheld wands that you wave at bar codes as you take stuff off the shelves and then bag things yourself in the cart. It keeps a running tally, and — presto! Because most of those nasty traditional functions of the checkout process already have been taken care of, exiting the store becomes almost as quick as swiping your credit or debit card at the cashier.
At least that's the idea, Kroger executives told WCPO in Cincinnati. Not surprisingly, other retailers are testing how to use smartphones to do the scanning, to eliminate the cost and complication of the wands.
Kroger is also testing a stationary, airport-type machine that simply scans your cartful of goodies from multiple angles, like a magnetic-resonance-imaging machine surveys a human body, and, given some calculation time, comes up with the total owed.
Everyone — retailers, consumers, CPG brands — is for saving consumers still more time in the process of grocery shopping, although privacy concerns are inevitable. But the spotty record of self-scanners —Albertsons actually eliminated them earlier this year — is a reminder that not every technology solution actually solves anything. Already, the Giant Eagle chain has decided not to go the scanning-wand route that Kroger is testing.
One thing that could bring more interest to the wand experiment, of course, is CPG-brand involvement. Imagine if, every time a shopper threw, say, a box of Pop-Tarts into the cart, a 3-second Kellogg-sponsored "Thank you!" would flash on the screen? Or a message promoting Paul Newman's Hole in the Wall Gang camps popped up every time someone plops a bottle of Newman's Own salad dressing into a Scan-Bag-Go bag (with a donation added to the bill)?
No? It's bound to happen. And don't forget that Google and eBay are out there pitching merchants on their mobile commerce platforms, too.
(Image via PinAdd/Flickr)