Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Future Of Grocery Shopping

You know how you try to explain to a teen-ager that that funny panel in the car called an AM/FM radio does more than act as an iPod hook-up? Or telling them about the olden days when you looked up stuff in the encyclopedia, instead of Wikipedia? Even worse, how about justifying that 15 years ago, there were no famous people that admitted to being gay?

Well, cool cats, the world is about to change again. I, of course, remember the days when groceries were rung up from stickers on every item... "Price check, please!!"... pre-UPC codes. Welcome to the next generation of supermarket tech: Scan It, which allows shoppers to ring up and bag their purchases, as a screen maintains a running total. Marvy!

The tech even offers electronic coupons as you meander up and down the aisles. And when you're done, just head to a self-checkout station to pay the bill. Oh, heaven.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Scan It—which resembles a smartphone, perched on the handle of the shopping cart—is being tested at Stop & Shop and Giant groceries in the Northeast. Shoppers dig it because it helps avoid an interminable wait in line, while retailers say it drives up sales about 10% per customer.

Wondering how stores prevent shoplifting? Retailers say they check receipts at the door, while potential losses are less than clerks ringing up prices wrong—in addition to Scan It's appeal over losing shoppers to online groceries.

Retail experts predict the new retail gizmo could bring end traditional cash registers. I've already seen the wonders of similar technology at New York's Fifth Avenue Apple Store. And after waiting in line at CVS today behind a codger who wanted his items rung up on three separate credit cards—while he tried to figure out the electronic signing pen—bring it on. Now, please.