CE#335: Check Out the Future of Shopping (WSJ)

A device that looks like a smartphone is making supermarket shoppers—and stores—happier. Perched on the handle of the shopping cart, it scans grocery items as the customer adds them to the cart.

Shoppers like it because it helps avoid an interminable wait at the cashier. Retailers like it because the device encourages shoppers to buy more.

With the system called Scan It—in use at about half of Ahold USA’s Stop & Shop and Giant supermarkets in the Northeast—shoppers scan and bag their own groceries as they navigate the aisles, while a screen keeps a running total of their purchases. About a dozen times per shopping trip, the device lets out a “Ka-ching” as an electronic coupon appears on the screen. “Last week, right after I scanned coffee, I got a coupon for coffee creamer, which I needed,” says Patty Emery, a Caldwell, N.J., dental assistant, who estimates she shaves 20 minutes off her weekly grocery shopping trip at Stop & Shop. “It is really cool.”

Stores have been under siege in recent years, not just from the rise of online shopping but also from the way mobile phones empower people to compare their store’s prices, item by item, with a rival store nearby. Now, stores are fighting back with their own mobile technology.

Shoppers who use the Scan It system spend about 10% more than the average customer, says Erik Keptner, Ahold’s senior vice president for marketing and consumer insights. He attributes this to targeted coupons and the control consumers feel while using the Scan It (actually, Ahold calls it “ScanIt!”) device. Full article

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