PDF: Scan Bag Go
The days in which human cashiers play a major role in the grocery shopping experience may be numbered. Retailers across the nation have for years provided technology that allows shoppers to check out using automated kiosks, and now retail giant Kroger is about to roll out a new service which will allow shoppers to eventually bypass the checkout process altogether.
Cincinnati-based Kroger announced recently that it’s about to implement the new Scan, Bag and Go service in 18 operating divisions to include 400 stores across the nation. According to its news release, Kroger will roll out Scan, Bag and Go in “select locations” across the country including the Delta Division, which serves Mississippi shoppers. Which stores will be included was not immediately available.
Scan, Bag and Go allows customers to stroll through the aisles with an app or handheld scanner which will scan products as they’re placed into bags. As shoppers scan and bag their groceries, the system will keep a running total of the items in the basket, and show coupons and specials. For now, consumers will have to stop at the self-service checkout stand to pay for their groceries, but soon will be able to pay directly from a smartphone app and walk out of the store with a minimum of hassle.
Kroger’s “Restock Kroger” initiative is part of a large-scale retooling of the retail giant’s plans for the future. Kroger has said it plans to double its investment in new technologies in the next year, a move designed to make it more competitive in an era of stiff competition not only from sister bricks-and-mortar retailers, but also from online services such as Jet.com and Amazon and self-prepared services such as Hello Fresh and Blue Apron.
Self-service kiosks, which are now available in a variety of retail stores, have proven popular for customers with just a few items or who prefer to handle everything themselves. Shoppers have been demanding more convenience, and a variety of technological (and low-tech) solutions have been tried for years.
Restock Kroger is an initiative that includes a combination of cost-cutting and strategic investments in data, digital innovation, store updates, and pricing. The grocer plans to invest 200 percent more next year in key areas such as digital, store and payment technology.
“Many of our customers have adopted this convenient new technology and responded favorably to the seamless checkout experience,” noted Chris Hjelm, Kroger’s executive vice president and chief information officer. “Scan, Bag, Go is one more choice, like ClickList, that Kroger provides so customers can choose when and how they want to shop with us.” (ClickList allows shoppers to order their groceries online, then have them loaded into their vehicles at designated parking spots.)
The rollout is part of a trend that’s recently been emerging worldwide. Walmart and other retailers have also recently announced their own versions, but Kroger’s rollout will be the largest announced to date. It’s clear the industry is moving toward maximizing convenience, and in the process minimizing the necessity of human intervention.
It’s possible that one day, the notion of having to go through a checkout line will seem as quaint as driving up to a gas station and saying “fill ‘er up” would today, as an attendant cleans your windshield, tops off the air in your tires and gives you a highway map. That may be a good thing if you’re in a hurry, but for people who work in the industry (or just prefer human interaction), it will likely be harder to find a personal touch.