23 September 2010

Grocery Shopping Revelation

I realize that I am on the only person who will ever care about this, but I must gush about my love for our local Stop and Shop.  Why the newfound love-affair?  Thanks to their whole scan and shop system, I can actually shop with my two kids and no one has to threaten homicide to make it happen!
Basically you go in, hit up a kiosk, scan in your member card (its free BTW) and you get hooked up with a little hand-held scanner so you can scan your items and pack your bags as you go.   This means that when you get to the end of your shopping trip, known to parents as the “shit storm hour” you just hand over your scanner, swipe your debit card and walk out the door.  If you do self-checkout, now not a huge pain in the ass since the tedious scanning bit is done, you can actually do your entire shopping trip never, ever, speaking to another human being.   You can even place your deli order at a kiosk and then just pick it up on your way back to the check-out.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is a total game changer.   The major time killer at the grocery store was always the unloading onto the conveyer belt, waiting for it all to get scanned, waiting for the bagger to place each item, individually, slowly and tediously into a bag, running your card, making small-talk…you get the idea, all while the kids freak out and rattle everyone’s nerves trying to destroy the place.  Now I scan as I go (actually Cha Cha scans, the built in toy/bribery aspect should not be underestimated…it is amazing!) pack my bags the way I want them and then just waltz through a checkout and out to the car as soon as the natives get restless.
Additional bonus, they do pass the man-power savings on to you.  Things will often scan with added savings when you self-scan and since the unit knows where you are by what you are scanning, it will remind you if something in that area, or something you scanned, is on special or sale. 
The real question: why have we not done this forever ago?  The technology has existed for a while as evidenced by gift registries.  Also, in this day and age where we strive to avoid any provision of customer service, the do it yourself method must be appealing to the companies.  I understand there are some issues, like how do you control for the obvious potential for shoplifting, both accidental and intentional?  How do you ensure accuracy of scanning for all the items given that I don’t think I have ever checked out without something buggering up the scanner?  What do you do about the fact that half of your customer base is probably completely unable to complete this task with any efficacy?
I guess at the end of the day, in this particular area, Stop and Shop can gamble that people who choose to use this option will do so because they also tend to be the kind of people that don’t plan to steal, have some technological ability and are likely to not want to waste much time in the process therefore guaranteeing that they rarely, if ever, require the help of any employees.  Add in that they do audit a few orders every now and then and I suppose it all works pretty well.
All I know is that it has changed my life.  The idea of keeping my kids placated long enough to grocery shop without someone having a meltdown no longer causes me to break out in a cold sweat and, in even better news, my misanthropy is fully supported.  In some ways, this suburban life is just perfect.


Ginger said...

Um, how much do I want this? Even without the kid, I would LOVE to not have to interact with the checkers. Ever. We already generally bag our own stuff because they always screw stuff up, so this..sounds magical.

Alicen @ The Space Between My Ears said...

Ok so I am really hating Blogger lately since it keeps crapping out on me.

Anyway our Giant also has this system though it makes sense since Giant and Stop & Shop must be owned by the same person/company. It is pretty genius and wildly efficient especially when using reusable bags anyway (eventhough they do have bags by the scanners). My guess is that we will see this system popping up at more grocery stores pretty soon.