Ahold Chains Put Scanners in Shoppers’ Hands
The Wall Street Journal last week profiled the Scan It! handheld scanners that have been tested over the last few years and now rolled out to about half of Ahold USA’s Stop & Shop and Giant supermarkets in the Northeast. The system enables shoppers to scan items as they navigate aisles with a screen keeping tabs on purchases.
Shoppers activate the scanner by reading the barcode on their loyalty card. On average, about a dozen times per shopping trip a "Ka-ching" sound indicates that an electronic coupon has appeared on the screen. In many cases, loyalty card data helps present coupon offers based on past purchases and the user’s current location in the store.
"Last week, right after I scanned coffee, I got a coupon for coffee creamer, which I needed," Patty Emery, a shopper at a Stop & Shop, told the Journal. "It is really cool."
She estimated she saves 20 minutes as well as gets five percent off her weekly grocery shopping trip using the device. When done selecting items, Scan It! shoppers either go to a self-checkout station to pay or hand the device to a cashier. Dedicated self-checkout stations for Scan It! are being installed as the device gains popularity with customers.
As Scan It! users bag their own groceries and largely check out themselves, the devices free up more time for cashiers to help customers and may ultimately offer labor savings for stores, according to the article.
Erik Keptner, Ahold’s senior vice president for marketing and consumer insights, also said that shoppers who use Scan It! spend about 10 percent more than the average customer because of the targeted coupons and the "control" consumers feel when shopping with the devices.
In April, Stop & Shop began testing a Scan It! app at three stores in Massachusetts that enable shoppers to use their iPhones to scan, according to The Boston Globe. Connected to the store’s Wi-Fi network and also tied to loyalty cards, the app uses the phone’s camera to work similarly to the in-store Scan It! system. Kraft, Nestle, Perdue, and SC Johnson have signed up to offer coupons through the app.
Paul Schaut, chairman of Modiv Media, the developer of the app, told the Globe that applying the technology to smartphones will significantly cut to the costs of such scanning technologies for stores.
As far as risks, Ahold officials told the Journal that it spot checks customer receipts but hasn’t found shoplifting to be problem with in-store mobile checkouts. The risk to shoppers’ credit cards and identity security is also lessened if they are handled by store employees although Gartner Research’s Avivah Litan said such devices hold some risk to tampering if not completely secured.
The Journal’s article indicated that the arrival of customer-scanning technologies are complementing a push to provide scanning devices to workers at Home Depot, Nordstrom and others to both search inventories and enable checkouts on the selling floor.
- Check Out the Future of Shopping – The Wall Street Journal
- Weekly Shop Goes High Tech – The Wall Street Journal
- Stop & Shop to launch app for checkout – The Boston Globe
- Stop & Shop Supermarket Chain Goes Hi-Tech – physorg.com
- Stop & Shop Goes Mobile with New Grocery Application – Stop & Shop
- Nordstrom to roll out mobile checkout devices company-wide – Chain Store Age
- Buying at Nordstrom expected to get easier – The News Tribune
- Mobile Payment Debuts Nationally at Starbucks – Starbucks
Discussion Questions: How receptive do you expect consumers will be to mobile scanning devices? How would you assess the benefits to retailers as well as any potential hurdles and risks?