I have seen the future and it is the gizmo at left. But I do think there are some kinks to work out.
I paid a late visit to the Stop & Shop in Franklin Park with a girlfriend after a dinner out a few nights ago. She needed balsamic vinegar and olive oil, and a little advice on choosing them.
So we sailed into the store, and as I grabbed a cart, I wondered what the holder on the left side of the cart’s handle was for. An alert staffer told us it was for their hand-held scanners, and sure enough, there was a rack of them nearby. First you scan your shopper club card, and one of the scanners lights up and, tag – you’re it, and Stop & Shop knows you’re in the building!
The carts have also been outfitted with little metal tabs, so you can stretch open a plastic bag (or your own?), and just drop your items right in. As you choose an item, you hold down the orange button and pass the scanner over the barcode. As we went down the aisles, the thing also beeped and showed us items that were on special, such as the can of corn (or whatever it was) pictured here. That seemed a little random to me, not related to what was nearby on the shelves, or to my shopping history. (And I didn’t try to find out how it works with items sold by weight, like produce.)
Anyhoo…the scanner shows you a running total as you add items, which is nice if you’re budgeting. When you’re done, you go to a self check-out lane. You aim your scanner at a reader there, your total transfers to the register, and you pay as you would at any self check-out, but with no unloading and bagging of your groceries needed. (Hey, by this point, they should not only be paying us, but maybe giving us benefits?)
My friend and I were highly amused by all this. And there must’ve been something in the air that night, because when we exited the store there were a couple of high-spirited women in the lot who asked us to take their photo, and one of them was riding in a cart. They were part of a scavenger hunt, they explained, just a couple of moms on a rare night out, having lots of fun. I hope they won!