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Transforming grocery shopping

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  1. 1. EUen Fullam (right) shows her sou Danny (carter), t, and Patrick, 7, bow to pUoe * doU order it the Super Stop It Shop m Bralntro*, Ibu. High-tech grocery checkout Checkout: Do-it- yourself technology is Nothing remarkable about that — except that Fullam Shoppers buy into next generation of self-service was dozens of yards from the The latest In self-service shopping bypasses checkout aisles by going wireless with a system called advancing rapidly dell counter when she or- dered. And when her cheese Shopping Buddy. Customers use a bar-code scanner and tablet to make purchases as they shop. through the retail world. was ready, she was alerted by StHMxn uu tin Utttaneat ihapphg Wonwbw, «Ndi It natm tan i mob compute a flat-screen computer on her shopping cart while she was HyFwortestiows finwIfM Customers press Vterfert Shoppers see By ANDRKW RATKKK perusing another aisle. Her past*!..,_ i_^iijl_^'.-:-..-i_^ _-l_J t-'ii-i'..'-•„ . »..r_£:^-J _L'i^;-(i'j'!.-: •'. .'^Lw'Ju •'-.-:•( -^'. ,• <•'•••• .. total __ j purchases Indicates 4 v a«Si«twtm provides view of , running - . •DM »TArr smart cart knew everything she has ever bought at a Stop BRAINTREE, Mail. — Just & Shop, precisely where the back from a family vacation at was Inside the store and the Disney World and needing to running total other bill. replenish her pantry, Ellen When she finished, she Fullam entered a Super Stop could pay her bill by herself & Shop near her home In this without removing a product Boston suburb last week and from the cart. ordered American cheese "It's quick. It's easy. It's Just from the dell counter. another new technology though. Things are always changing* Fullam said mat- ter-of-factly. a 35-year-old teacher and waitress with her policeman husband and sons In tow. Is this the future of grocery shopping, or all shopping for that [See Checkout, Sol .. „...,.,.-. iCWHmiw-ojfli ..~| : ~ : - "icanMrMndspurdiiM '•!«?,!!RM iloiJttfatlit lUJjB Itattttuvfctfei* & - b iremoteeomouir bulk Hems A customer scans UwStopAShop otoracordattna eheciuiut counter and toe total bill displayed alonu wtthoojieotlonao to how It win bo paid, aD without ths eoitonwr hcrlnf to muom ttema from Uw chopping cart- Sown*: Cunot, Symbol Toclviotogtos Me. OBnrAII PATOL t lira RAFT
  2. 2. BUSINESS The Sun: Sunday, May 4,2003: Page 5D "Usually, I'm running around asking, 'Do you know where this is?' But it has this global^positwning-tgpe system that finds things and tells you if you're getting warmer. When I found what I was looking for, it was so exciting." Smart carts speed up shopping trip [Checkout. JTom Page ID allow wives to e-mail shopping lists to their husbands on matter? "Shopping Buddy.' although re- Like It or not, do-It-yourself quiring the husband to buy only technology Is advancing rapidly the listed Items may be beyond through the retail and service technology's reach.) worlds. Airline passengers now check themselves la at airport kiosks. Casinos are Installing shoplifting — the fint Question cashless slot machines (rom man; ; the which players collect their win- "Shopping Buddy." nings electronically without a Shoppen get "scored" by the coin clinking And libraries have computer the first time they use begun using radio-frequency It so the machine has a basis for systems so their patrons can future patterns, such as how check out stacks at books prac- much time an individual typi- tically without breaking stride cally takes in a particular aisle. at '.he exit. Invention's mother Is Grimes said Closed-circuit tele- necessity, but oneJ of her chil- vision cameras also monitor dren Is named ::<::'• . vr.-p- •-. shoppers the old-fashioned way. Nowhere is this trend more through surveillance. Conven- prevalent than In supermarket*, tional self-checkout systems and large warehouse-type check theft by matching the stores, whose managers struggle weight of the Items on the con- to find and keep cashiers and veyor belt with the weight of the where long lines gave birth la Items scanned and flagging dis- the term "register rage' Shop- crepancies. pers In one survey considered if such systems Increase grocery shopping Just above vis- "shrink" — retailers' euphemism Its to the dentlsL for shoplifting — that will be A billion self-serve transac- their demise. Kmart Corp.. for tions were made In the United one. blamed Its self-checkout Slates last year, up (rom 520 aisles for contributing to shop- million In 2001 and 320 million In lifting and asked last month to 2000, according to Industry ana- be excused from Us contract lysts. Self-checkout systems, in with the supplier In Its bank- only B percent of grocery stores ruptcy case. is recently as 1999. are now In But some grocery executives almost one-third or the 32.000 and analyst* contend self-serv- supermarkets In the country, de- ice checkout has reduced an- fined by making at least S2 mil- other form of theft: "sweet- lion Ln annual sales. hearting" by cashiers who let •I don't know that any of us Produce price* mud be entered manually on the "Shopping Buddy." The on a wale, which Is scanned by a device friends get away without paying debate whether It's appropriate that enters the price Into the computer. Most Items arc scanned by the a detachable scanner smaller than a cell phone. their full bill for groceries any more. It's an And system developers are overnight success, 10 to 15 yean tlonal Union In Washington. history and account Is stored. most cell phones, shoppen can ready to play yet, however. Of finding ever new ways to combat in the making." said Jeff Roster. Cashiers represented by the The information then returns to scan their items and get a run- roughly 13,000 shoppers in the temptation. At NCR, research- an analyst at Gartner Inc.. an union earn about 111 an hour Bralntree via the Internet to the ning sum as they drop them in store each week, about 3,000 are en discovered that people re- Information technology research and at Northeast chains such as 'Shopping Buddy* devices on the cart. If they've already using the "Shopping Buddy" spond with more alarm to a re- and consulting firm. Stop tt Shop as much as lie an the shopping cart. placed bags In the cart, they can and maybe 2,000 of them are us- corded male voice than to a fe- Consumen do not universally hour, plus benefits. The average The process take* less than 2 check out with the scanner and ing it to check out al Ihe end. male one. They reserve the male embrace the change. Some do cashier wage Is 97 an hour. pay for their Items without re- said Mike Oiimes, vice presl- recording Ln self-service lanes everything they can to avoid Because of wireless transmit- moving anything from the bas- denl of sale* and markellng for for limes when the machine de- self-checkout lanes at groceries Fat* of coahlora ters affixed to the celling of the ket. CucSoL tects a problem or security and complain that they're being Predictions of doom (or cash- supermarket, the machine- This Is so much easier," said threat, said Mlchad R. Webster. uktrd to do the work of cashiers. ten may be oventated, though. equipped cart always "knows" Elizabeth Murphy, 38. as her Shoppers ploosod vice president and general man- The machines seem balky at If the experience of self-service Us location In the store. If a cus- 9-year-old son. Evan, "blasted" Stop tt Bhop has been qulel ager of NCR's FfcstLane division. times and some users get flus- automation In banking Is a tomer's history Indicates that bar codes for her with the re- about the rollout, with some In- Long-standing fears about tered as a line of annoyed fellow guide. she favors a certain brand of portedly kid-proof scanning tool store promotion only, but the pitfalls, however, appear to be shoppers backs up behind them. The number of U.S. tellers has orange juice, the machine screen "Usually, I'm running around chain Ls pleased wtth how cus- yielding to a belief that the tech- Checkout technology hasn't remained flat at roughly 85.000 will alert her to a sale on It when asking 'Do you know where this tomera have responded so far. nology can Improve efficiency. so mystified and conquered since 1990. even while ATM she nean the refrigerated sec- is?' but It has this global-posi- Some shoppers have told man- convenience and even competi- since President Oeorge H.W. transactions doubled, to 14 bil- tion. If she can't find a product, tioning type system that finds agers they even spend a UUle tive advantage. Bush reportedly expressed lion last year. ATMs altered be- a quick computer search on her thlnp and tells you If you're get- more while using the devices be- "If you look at a target shop- ama?«ment at a common super- havton and led customers to cart screen will locate the ttem ting wanner. When 1 found what cause they can tell how close p e r — a mom. a busy mom — market scanner in 1992, fueling bank more often, said John Hall, and even display a store map to 1 was looking tor. It was so excit- they are to their budget limit. anything you can do to make remarks that he seemed out of a spokesman for the American show how close the'* getting a* ing.* ihe said. Grimes said CueSol also took mom's experience easier, there'* touch. Banking Association In Wash- she walks toward the Item. *I hope thl* Is going to be some cue* from general com- a benefit that binds." aaM Rick But checkout automation Is ington. But given the rise In Usen can order dell products coming down to the Cape," said plaints about the Internet, now Stockwood, a Stop tt Shop Improving, a big reaton that transactions and middle-class with the "Shopping Buddy" Elaine Manton, a 59-year-old awash In annoying "spam" and spokesman. "How many people consumers are seeing more of IL. wealth. It's also arguable that touch screen and even specify Cape Cod resident visiting her the which have quad- whether they prefer their bolo- Mew modal* oajlor rupled In availability to nearry gna thick or thin. A screen Jumbo lemons, she decided to failed "video" shopping cart sys- rocked the vtdeocaueu« world? Unlike the earliest models de- 350.000. kept financial Institu- prompt alerts when the order is put one back and with Ihe scan- tems In Ihe 1990s, nor attempt People are more accustomed to veloped in the 1980s, the latest tions from having to hire tellers ready. ner erased the second entry. to convert shoppen from their this. In the grocery business, models accept various forms of to keep up with the growth. And with a detachable scan- •It's like a toy " typical brands. {CueSol Is also technology and convenience can payment. Including checks. Some experts believe self- ner. smaller and lighter than Most customers here aren't working on a version that would go hand In hand." Touch screens and video anima- service checkouts will become tion have made the machines more used and useful with re- seem less threatening to users, finements in radio-frequency now very accustomed to pumping their own gas and bonking by machine. Developers such as Optimal RoboUcs of Montreal arc experi- Identification systems, being de- veloped most prominently at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Already In wide use at toll booths and for credit pur- People behind the new technology - and a critic menting with new configura- chases at Exxon Mobil gas sta- tions that lake up less space tions, so-called H M D systems the entrepreneur. Humble concocted an tomer Is always right can check out a cart full of Items Internet dieting service Inatead. Home Depot executives think their sys- Items clogging up the conveyor In an Instant without removing 'I thought it would have taken off taster tem offers a competitive edge against the belt. And cheaper machines and one. Industry expert* believe that self-service .^^ (l dw - the (T-year-okl Inventor said of rising No. 2 chain. Lowe* Companies Inc. Increasing tabor coats are mak- Such a system Is already in Lowe's said through a spokeswoman ll has ing retailers take a second look use at a grocer In South Africa. no plans to add self-servke checkout. If they believe they can recoup An IBM Corp. commercial of- Ing gum — either Wrlgley's Spearmint or «»* aaopten. "We've learned a lot from the grocery the coct In 18 to 24 months. A fered a humorous gUmpse of the Juicy Fruit, historical account* conflict — store experience," said John Simley, a set of four self-iervlce lanes future, depleting a shoplifter be- was swept over a laser scanner at a grocer spokesman at Home Depot's headquarten costs about 5100.000 to 9200.000. ing handed his receipt, unaware In Troy. Ohio, 29 years ago. In AtlanU, "A bag of concrete Is Just like an Baltimore and the rest of the that his concealed goods had That Introduced the Universal Product orange. You only have a certain amount of mid-Atlantic are relative late- been charged 10 Ms account by Code to shopping. greaUy increasing the va- lime to sell it, so It'* all aboul moving prod- comer* to the technology. In RF1D tags. But the price of the riety of goods a store could hope to track uct qulckty across the register." parts of Europe, It ha* been tags will have to drop 10-fold, to and inventory. common for years. Self-service Is pennies apiece, to make the ben- Here are a few people behind the new Tho critic also well-established In the Mid- efit worth the expense on a technology — and one pushing back: Paul McFedrles. a Toronto author, writes west and South. mass scale, some expert* agree. some of the "Complete Idiot's Guides" to Some experts believe that Is One of the more Intriguing Tho Inventor computer subjects, so he doesn't view him- because those regions are home (elf-serve experiments In the David R. Humble was waiting In a grocery self as a foe of technology or even of idiots. to Kroger Co. of Cincinnati and United States Is at a market checkout line in a Florida supermarket 19 but he does see some Idiocy In the concept Publlx Super Markets Inc. of owned by Stop it Shop Super- yean ago when a moment struck him that of self-service checkout. Lakeland, Fla.. chain grocers market Co. The New England may change the face of shopping, The lerm reminds that pioneered the systems' use supermarket chain shares the A customer ahead of him of "bowling alone," in the United Stales, and NCR same Dutch parent company. him was so agitated by a phrase coined by Corp.. the Dayton. Ohio, com- Royal Ahold NV. as five other Robert Putnam In a pany that made the first me- U.S. supermarkei chains, includ- lion, he grabbed one of 1B83 article about the chanical cash register 120 yean ing Olant Pood Inc. In Maryland. his items and swiped ll Increase in bowling in ago. A month ago. Stop & shop over the scanner him- the United States even But others see another con- launched 'Shopping Buddy" at self. The cashier got the as the number of bowl- nection: Political support Tor or- Its large store In Bralntree, a message. Humble got a Steve Walker, Home Depot store maiuuref. ing leagues declined. ganized labor, which perceives middle-class suburb at the thought. Why not allow "Soon you'll never •elf-service as a threat. 'Look at south end of Boston's T* com- a customer to always do Tho retailor even have to talk to the Bush vs Core map and the muter rail. that? Especially on the weekends, when "honey- anybody." UcFedrlei HcFedrfe* Bush areas are where T.J-.-I of At the store's entrance, a rack Humble "It was so simple* he do" lists abound. Steve Walker would occa- said. 'Now, It1* kind of the chains started self-check- holds about 60 devices that look said. He returned to his sionally Find stray, partly full cart* near the fun to banter with the cashier, but In five or out," said Oreg Buzek, a retail like Industrial-strength Etch-A- Job al a manufacturer of electronic tecurity front of the Home Depot store he manages 10 yean ... well. 1 haven't bantered with a technology consultant in Ten- Sketch toys. tag* for clothing, toyed with prototype* and In Bel Air. bank teller in who knows how long." nessee. Shoppen daring enough to eventually formed CheckRobol Inc. It wns a telltale sign — and a retailer* McFedrles, who also produces a vocabu- He noted that California and try the device, developed by He cobbled together an industrial com- nightmare — that a customer took the time lary Web site called Is per- the Northeast, birthplaces of Symbol Technologies Inc. of puter, a penonal computer and a video to visit and shop at his store but couldn't plexed thai consumen believe lhat trans- major Innovations In computing Long island, N Y . and CueSol, a screen — U.S. patent 4.904.033 — and bear the wait to complete the purchase. acting business with a machine is more pri- but also politically liberal and shopping software developer in shopped it to a few grocery chains. Pufallx Thai was reason enough for Walker u> vate. pro-union, have been slower to nearby Qulncy. mount it In spe- Super Market* Inc. bought ihe first one for welcome the four self-checkout allies In- In fact, "data shadows" of penonal credit adopt the technology. cially designed handle* on their a store near Atlanta, stalled thl* spring at his store, one of the and consumer histories are blooming ever The Labor Department In a carts. Customen swipe their Like many inventon, Humble apparently chain'* busiest In the mld-AUanllc. Home 2000 report acknowledged the frequent shopper card" in the was ahead of his time. His equipment, Depot plans to add about 3.000 of the ma- larger Some self-serve technology discounts In use of- Use of self-service technology machine — or borrow a generic weaker and slower than computers today, chines In about half of Its 1.600 stores this fers electronic promotions and bui didn't foresee a heavy bite in card from the service counter. cost twice as much as conventional check- year. based on a shoppers history and habit*. the demand for cashiers. There What cuslomen don't see Is outs at the time. They didn't speed the "It's been a iremendous addition." Walker "Any little thing thai will save them lime are about 3.4 million of them, as remarkable as what they do. proceu enough because customen stul had said. "When we Rnl Installed It, customen seems to be a good thing, but If you took at about one-third working in food The tablets transmit a wireless to pay a central cashier after bagging their who had had a bad experience with self- what we are giving up," McFedrles said, *20 stores. signal to CueSol'* computer goods. His machine didn't accept cash or checkout elsewhere were hesitant, but once yean from now. our lives will be open books This is an emerging Issue In serven a few miles away. From checks, and debit cards were still a* uncom- Ihey gol over that. It has been well received.* and all the data bases will talk to each small markets and big markets. there the connection move* over mon In supermarket* as coftee ban. Although studies have found that con- other. It's a challenge for us,* said JUI fiber-optic lines to Ahold's CheckRobol was eveniually sold to a sumers often process a checkout slower "My philosophy has always been you need Cashen of the United Food tt mainframe In Greenville. S.C.. company In Europe, where self-serve check- than trained cashlen, customers tclicic to know technology In order to control tech- Commercial Workers Interna- where the customer* shopping out Is more common and advanced. Ever they do It faster — and In retail, the cus- nology. Otherwise. It will control you*