How often do you go to a grocery store on a weekend only to find out that you shop for 20 minutes but wait in line for another 20 minutes? I certainly have, and a chain of grocery stores in Maryland plans to change that. Several Bloom Grocery stores in Maryland are using a new type of scanners that cuts down the amount of time shoppers spend waiting in line by offering a special hand held scanner that lets the customer keep a running tally of items.

Below is what your new shopping cart will have attached to it. Basically, you walk around the isles and once you pick up an item you can scan it and keep it in your cart.

Scanner 1      Scanner 2

How do I scan items that aren’t usually priced?
You may wonder how produce items such as vegetables and fruits are priced and scanned into the system. Well, thats simple too, I have seen these at my local stores and maybe you have too. In the produce section, there will be weighing scales that will weigh the product and print the label for the item at the weighing station itself. What this allows customers to do is to avoid the clerks at the checkout counters who may not know what an Asian Pear looks like or those who cant distinguish between Italian flat leaf parsley and the regular curly parsley. This way, the customer himself or herself gets to weigh the product and enter the product code which will be listed where the product is kept. Bloom stores takes it a step further with kiosks that allow customers to print recipes that include the location of the ingredients. Although I haven’t seen anything like that around my local stores, I am sure that it would be a great idea.

Scanner 3

Heading to the Counter! & What About Shoplifting?
Once you are done shopping you head to the front (picture above) and scan a code generated by your personal scanner into the system, followed by a swipe of your “shoppers card” and lastly paying. By shoppers card they mean your Kroger Card or Pathmark or Shoprite card. Although the stores claim they don’t have issues with shop lifting, I am not sure how long that could last. As far as feasibility of such technology, I am sure that we will see it in the near future, but imagine using such a system at a Wal-Mart or Target. The article states that random audits are taken to stop shop lifting but how can you be sure? Well, there isn’t a way to be sure for now and that would lead to a downfall for this kind of system. I can’t imagine seeing a system such as this being implemented at a Wal-Mart where hundreds of people will be running around the isles. Also, most stores have the express checkouts where you use a touchscreen monitor to checkout but it does come with its occasional problems. There always has to be human intervention just in case something doesn’t work – things such as price errors or coupons not scanning.

Will This System Work?
Personally, I don’t know if this system will work in larger stores but as far as local grocery stores, I think that it can be used as a worthy option. Individuals who prefer going to a checkout counter with a clerk have their way and those who like the electronic method can go with their preference. In the end, only time can tell whether or not such a system will work at the larger scale. As of right now, its pretty exciting to read about but it makes me wonder, how life was before the electronic checkout we see now days? I remember waiting in line for at least 15 minutes even if i only had 20 items. Obviously, express checkout lanes are now available but you still have to wait in line. Usually the touchscreen based checkout systems don’t have a long wait time and are quick to use unless you have produce items or coupons that don’t scan. Either way, I want to know if the electronic systems you use now have made it easier for you to shop or if they haven’t?