A&P NOW EVALUATING NEW SELF-SCANNING TECHNOLOGY

MONTVALE, N.J. -- A&P here, which has two stores with stationary self-checkout systems, is evaluating self-checkout systems that use an open systems platform for possible use in additional locations.A number of U.S. retailers are testing both stationary and portable self-scanning systems, citing the devices' ability to improve customer service and reduce long checkout lines.A&P is considering employing

MONTVALE, N.J. -- A&P here, which has two stores with stationary self-checkout systems, is evaluating self-checkout systems that use an open systems platform for possible use in additional locations.

A number of U.S. retailers are testing both stationary and portable self-scanning systems, citing the devices' ability to improve customer service and reduce long checkout lines.

A&P is considering employing Windows NT technology to help simplify the interface process between self-scanning terminals and other store systems.

Use of a Windows/NT platform would enable the self-scanning devices to act like other POS terminals without requiring significant programming changes, according to Frank Urbaniak, vice president of store automation at A&P.

"There is less integration and it's easier to manage the software," he added.

While A&P evaluates the new technology, the retailer continues to see positive customer response from its existing self-checkout systems. At A&P's South Plainfield, N.J., store, for example, almost 30% of customers use the system and like it, said Urbaniak. Self-checkout has been available in this location since 1991.

The South Plainfield store, which will close, will be reopened across the street from its current location in April. The new store will feature a self-checkout system because of consumer interest.

Self-scanning technology was installed in A&P's Bayonne, N.J. store in July 1997 and has also been well received by customers there.

"Consumers like being able to walk up to a register and check out at their own speed," Urbaniak said. "When a husband and wife are shopping together, we've seen the wife scanning the groceries and the husband bagging them."

Other retailers testing stationary self-scanning systems include Kroger Co., Cincinnati. Kroger is testing the devices in Louisville, Ky.; Tylersville, Ohio; its Central KMA in Indianapolis; and Denver-based King Soopers, a division of Dillon Cos., Hutchinson, Kan. Price/Costco, a division of warehouse club retailer Costco Wholesale, Issaquah, Wash., is also testing a stationary self-scanning system.

The system currently used by A&P comes from Productivity Solutions, Jacksonville, Fla.