Self-scanning as you go at the supermarket
Six years ago I wrote a story for the food section about the new self-scan lanes. My lead was "Passions are running high at your local supermarket." Now it's hard to remember what the fuss was about. Either you like them or you don't, but no big deal.
I just heard about the next generation of self-scanners from Good Eater Peter -- hand-held, scan as you go. They've been installed in his Giant in Timonium.
Good idea or bad idea? I can't quite decide. I embrace technology, but not when there are more potential glitches than advantages to moi. ...
Probably the store is going to have to rearrange its shelves from heaviest to most fragile and lightest so I can bag efficiently before I stop thinking it's probably more trouble than it's worth. But I'm willing to be convinced otherwise.
Here's Peter's e-mail to me:
We should discuss one of the latest features to invade Giant Food stores - the Scan It! device. It's a handheld scanner that readers the bar codes on groceries.
Here's how it works: You walk into your local grocery (mine is the new Giant in Timonium) with your reuseable bags and you go to the Scan It! display, scan your store ID card, and pick up the flashing handheld scanner. As you shop, you scan your groceries and bag them. When finished you simply present your scanner at any checkout, the information is downloaded and you pay.
It's a great labor-saving device for the checkout clerk but does it save the shopper much time? My experience is probably not. If you bag as you go, you tend not to bag as efficiently. Plus, it slows you down. What happens if you change your mind about buying an item? There's probably a way around it but I'm not patient enough to find out.
On the plus side, the scanner has an LCD screen that flashes store specials as you enter the aisle. The grocery carts even have a convenient holster to hold the scanners as you shop.
Buying produce involves a two-step process where you have to weigh, count or otherwise define your selection so a sticker with an appropriate bar code can be created.
What do others think?
Peter was also bemoaning the fact that he only got one comment on his Walter Cronkite post. So while you're checking out the link I gave you, make his day.