Hand held scanner at the grocery store!

graywings123January 27, 2010

I went to the grocery store yesterday and they now have the hand-held scanners to carry around the store with you. You scan your item and put it directly in your shopping bag in the cart. At the self-service checkout, you scan an exit bar code, pay, and go. The items don't have to be lifted onto the belt.

I found myself distracted by the scanning process and did a lot of backtracking in the store. And I seemed to be the only person using the scanner. It looks like a shoplifter's dream - I almost bagged an item without scanning.

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One of the stores near us has that - I don't often go there but when I do DD begs to use it. I don't know how they prevent shoplifting. But sure do like putting items right into my bag after scanning - seems like I don't have enough room in cart for the reusable bags *and* the groceries!

    Bookmark   January 27, 2010 at 9:48AM
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I've been using the hand held for a couple of years and love it! The self check-out lines are rarely used, so I can zip through check-out and get the heck outta there. The hand held also alarms when my deli selections are ready, so no waiting around that section either.

An earlier device let me order from the deli & bakery from its touch screen while I shopped for other things. Now I have to go to the sections and use a computer screen there, but that's still better than taking a number and waiting for service. At least I can get the other shopping out of the way.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2010 at 9:59AM
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Cool! Never heard of those before...

What city?

    Bookmark   January 27, 2010 at 10:27AM
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I work PT @ a grocery store. :0) Cool! Never heard of it. There are sooooooooooooo many ways customers shop lift I guess one more way is not gonna do the industry any harm...right?!

IE: The other night, a lady was down an aisle loading groceries from her cart into her diaper bag. Security just happened to be walking right past her & saw what she was doing.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2010 at 10:33AM
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Interesting. Sounds like an expensive gadget for the grocery store though. How many does one store need to have in order to accommodate all the customers who might want one? And I guess they have to recoup that cost somewhere so is it reflected in their grocery prices? What's to stop someone from walking out the store with it? I know that grocery stores lose $$$ when carts go missing, I imagine this will add to that.

I've never seen one and don't know if I'd use it. It sounds like a convenience since it reduces your time at the check out, but I'm always wary when I'm put in the place of doing the work instead of the employees. Just off the top of my head I'd worry that it would end up taking me longer to shop, thereby more than canceling out my time in the check out line.

I'd definitely be curious enough to try it once though, if given the opportunity.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2010 at 11:00AM
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"I don't know how they prevent shoplifting."

I believe they use RF scanners.

Our local library has just started using RF technology. It saves so much time. You just put a whole stack of books on a glass plate and it reads the whole pile with your card. No need to handle each book separately. No need for an employee to do it for you. No lines anymore. Cool. I read that with RF technology it is possible to read the wave just by having one at the exit and when the person walks through the scanner with the items it is all read and recorded even if the items are already in their backpack or book bag. That would save a lot of time.

I have also read about shopping carts that have the scanners built right into them. No need for lugging around a handheld device.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2010 at 11:51AM
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I didn't find it really took me any longer to shop, esp. since I sometimes look for a scanner anyway to check a price. The handheld scanner also gives electronic coupons. Doesn't take any longer (in fact less time since you scan while you're already holding the item you picked off the shelf) than scanning at the register, no unloading then packing into bags, just bag it right away! I like that it gives a running total too. The only thing I saw is that you have to scan coupons for items right after scanning each item rather than at the end, so you have to be organized. But maybe that's an upgrade that's coming.

Stop and Shop is the chain that has it in some of their stores in CT. of course I fins myself most often at the small family-owned store nearby, not the chains.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2010 at 11:51AM
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Hmm, I didn't know they were using RFID on all products in the store, just expensive ones and maybe on cases of canned goods, etc. Maybe prices have dropped so much they can afford to tag each box and can? But what about produce?

One of the libraries near us just went to printing a receipt for due date on all items instead of stamping. No way to scan an entire stack - they have to scan barcode on each item individually.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2010 at 11:55AM
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Lori A. Sawaya

I think the grocery store scanner thing is RFID technology. See link. I remember DH talking about this a while back. There's something in the bar code that is deactivated when you scan your item. If you don't scan it and deactivate the thingy in the bar code, an alarm sounds or something is notified when you walk out the door. The entrances are like giant scanners too and can catch anything in your cart that was not deactivated by a hand-held. I believe one of the hopes of this technology is that it will help with shoplifting as well as inventory, consumer behaviors in the store, product stocking practices, etc.

I don't know that much about it. Just remember him talking about all the things this technology can do at the grocery, airports, schools -- so many applications. To the point that it's a little scary how well tracked, monitored, and documented our daily habits and routines could become.

Here is a link that might be useful: RFID

    Bookmark   January 27, 2010 at 12:04PM
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Yes that is it funcolors. If you scroll down in the Wiki linked page it explains the library use.

The RF chips can be made the side of as grain of sand. They can be put in clothing you buy or any other consumer goods. The technology is not new but its widespread use is limited at this point. There are snags in the system to be ironed out. Toll roads are trying them out so that cars don't have to stop and pay. McDonalds had a trial where a RF could collect payment at the drive-thru rather than stopping to get out the 'ol wallet and count out bills and and wait for change making the line move faster but the experiment failed.

There is a movement to put RF in drivers licenses and other ID so that one does not have to pull out a card to show a human who reads it with their eyes. This way businesses, schools, and government building can easily monitor who comes and goes. They are already being used in passports. Bar codes are becoming passe.

Here is a link that might be useful: RF-ID

    Bookmark   January 27, 2010 at 12:25PM
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They've had these in the Stop & Shop in the greater Boston area for almost 2 years now.

They do randomly check orders. It's automated by the computer. Luckily this has never happened when I have had alot of items.

Once you get the hang of it the scanners are a great time saver.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2010 at 12:26PM
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OK, I think I need to be more open minded!! My libraries (I regularly visit three different branches of two different systems) all have automated check out. One of them almosts insists that you use it, along with their automated return. Both check out and return are one-item-at-a-time. Ok, so I don't really mind checking out myself, although it is a bit of a chore. But there's only one return machine, and I find myself waiting behind people with a LOT of books, some of whom don't really understand how to use the machine and some of whom let their kids do it which takes even longer.

I sound like a curmudgeon! I don't mind doing that stuff but waiting in line for the privelege is just a bit much. I much prefer the branch I go to where, although automation is available, the librarians are happy to do all that for you. I know them all there, they know me, it's the human touch.

But all that doesn't really apply to grocery stores does it!? I'm sure that technology will eventually come here and now that I'm a little bit educated about it, I might be more open to it!

I do like the idea that it will help stop shoplifters... maybe that enables it to pay for itself.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2010 at 12:52PM
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RNmomof2 zone 5

The cost of the occasionally mis-scanned or not scanned item probably comes out to be less than the wage and benefits paid for a cashier to check you out.

I too dislike the fact that grocery stores are making the customers do their work for them. I have a teen that in another life was a grocery checker though. She scans, I bag. We are quite the team!

    Bookmark   January 27, 2010 at 1:11PM
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I don't mind scanning my own groceries, but hate the automated "Please put your item in the bag / Please remove the last item from the bag" notes that really mess things up if you use your own reusable bags. At least at Home Depot, the 'Skip Bagging' option is easy to find and use...

    Bookmark   January 27, 2010 at 1:44PM
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Here is a nice article explaining the new RF technology in simple layman terms and focusing on several important aspects of the implications of RF.

There has been a reluctance for retailers to invest in this new technology necessitating dumping all their fairly new expensive barcode scanners or fearing that if they do invest in RF technology that something better will come along soon and render their new investment in RF useless. Sort of like what happened to BetaMax ad laser disc players, and why BluRay just doesn't seem to take off in the consumer spectrum. And the same reasons consumers and broadcasters put off investing in HDTV which has BTW already been replaced by something even better but not in manufacture yet.


Here is a link that might be useful: New Era for Retailers

    Bookmark   January 27, 2010 at 2:31PM
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I too dislike the fact that grocery stores are making the customers do their work for them.

This is why I don't use the self check out because it takes jobs. Most people grew up pumping gas or working in grocery stores. Almost every state has self serve gas & now self check out in stores.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2010 at 2:53PM
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The Stop'n'Shops here in CT also have been using the scanners for the last couple of years, but everytime I'm in the store, there are only 1 or 2 checked out. They DO replace a cashier. Now SNS only has three open lines with cashiers available on the busy weekend mornings, and have increased the self-check-out lines to six. I haven't seen this giant chain (owned by a Dutch company) pass any of the savings to customers, though.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2010 at 2:58PM
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My ex works in RFID. The question is at what point is it cost-effective to tag every product (including every green pepper - not to mention what about items sold by weight not per item)? Prices are always changing, volume discounts, etc. so I can see it being cost effective for someone like SC Johnson or Kelloggs to tag each product (maybe they're getting tags for 5-10 cents each now) but produce (other than asparagus LOL) and sticks of gum, smaller manufacturers, etc. may not be worth it so won't be tracked. The scanner scans the barcode, which is printed on the package, not the same thing as a unique passive RFID tag with antenna. So Best Buy is probably tagging absolutely everything but Stop and Shop probably not.

Oh, and I hate the "please bag your item" voice too - as I'm trying to fit one or two of my bags in the tiny bagging area in self-checkout at Price Chopper, and it doesn't like my insulated bag (too heavy) or yells at me when I remove a bag once it's full. Wish they all had the "Skip bagging" option that HD and Walmart have. But then again I do most of my shopping (other than bulk paper goods) at small local store where they bag for me (using my bags if I want), no self-checkout.

BTW, did anyone read in the WSJ where in DC they're taxing paper and plastic bags in food stores? Is that a pain? Here most stores offer 5 cents off if you bring your own bag (but half the time I forget them, and 1/4 of the time I want paper bags so I can recycle my newspapers in them).

    Bookmark   January 27, 2010 at 3:08PM
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It sounds a lot cooler than those self-check outs. I HATE those things. There are few things in this world that deserve that word, but self-checkouts are one of them.

I wonder if hand scanners cause people to purchase more items? And what does one do about coupons?

    Bookmark   January 27, 2010 at 3:42PM
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I use the hand scanner. I had a lot of trouble at first, but now not so much. The scanners are near the entrance to the store in charging stations. You wave your shopper card (or enter your phone number) and a scanner will light up for you to take. If there are no fully charged scanners, you'll have to shop the old fashioned way ;-).
You can scan and bag (in your reusable bags or in plastic sacks) as you shop. At checkout, you scan the end of order bar code, put the scanner into a holder, then scan your shopper card or enter your phone number, whichever you did when you picked up the scanner. Your order will flash by on the monitor. Then you scan whatever coupons you have, remembering to deduct for each reusable bag, pay for your order, and that's it.
On occasion, a clerk will be summoned to check your order.
I've also noted that when chicken breasts are on special, the scanner will ring up a penny more than the price printed on the label.
You can't use the hand scanner for rainchecks. Those items have to be rung up by a clerk.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2010 at 4:15PM
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In MD the Giant has hand held scanners. They offer an incentive to use them a 5% discount I think the first time you use one. It looks like too much work to me for a large shopping trip and too gimmicky. I also honestly forget to try it and walk right by the hand helds. I don't see that many people using it and I wonder if it will succeed?

    Bookmark   January 27, 2010 at 5:38PM
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