LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - With department stores disappearing and everyone getting so many things online, there's no doubt the way we shop has changed. But when it comes to getting things like ice cream and lettuce, there's no replacing the trip to the grocery store.
Now Kroger Stores, the nation’s second-largest supermarket chain, is changing that with a self-scanning technology called “Scan, Bag, Go.” It comes on the heels of the online shopping portal “Clicklist” and aims to eliminate waiting in checkout lines for customers who still go into the store.
“Say you're in a hurry, you can just grab a couple things and you pay and you're out the door,” said Crystal Floyd, the woman in charge of front-of-store employee training at Kroger stores like the one in west Little Rock. “The customers tell us how they want to shop. Clicklist gives them an opportunity to pick up their orders when they get off work. [Scan, Bag, Go] gives them an easier way to shop and save money.”
Shoppers are greeted at the store entrance by a kiosk and an attendant. They pick up a hand-held scanner and start shopping. The device puts the checkout line in your hand.
“A lot of people are really receptive to it,” said Glen Gibbons, as he manned the kiosk. “I've given out about seven or eight scanners and everything with people looking to try it.”
Since every item in the store has a bar code, the hand-held device scans the product, registers the price and keeps a running tally of how much you’ve spent so far. Place items in the cart or bag, head to the self-service checkout and pay for everything.
In early testing in other parts of the country the big question customers have is with buying produce, because how does one scan a banana or a tomato?
“So they'll scan the tag [under the item] and the device tells you to weigh the item,” Floyd said. “Set the item aside so it can be weighed, take all your produce to the digital scales, scan the barcode on the scale and weigh each bag. It will show a price and ask if you want to buy it.”
Kroger has attendants across the store and at the checkout, especially in the produce section, and they have ways to make sure you're not ripping them off. Store executives are also sensitive to how these scanners appear to be making checkers and baggers obsolete.
“No actually we are hiring in all departments in this store,” Floyd said. “Kroger’s is not taking away any jobs.”
Walmart also tried out hand-held scanners in 120 stores across the country. A spokeperson says they have ended the test-run and are now “evaluating the feedback.”
The Arkansas-based retail giant is now testing "Check Out With Me” where an attendant has the scanner and can checkout customers from anywhere in the store.
Of the 105 Kroger Stores in Arkansas, five are scheduled to get the scanners this year with plans for expansion after that.