FOOD LION TESTS SELF SCANNING TO SPEED CHECKOUT

SALISBURY, N.C. -- Recognizing that consumers don't enjoy waiting in checkout lines, Food Lion here is testing self-scanning stations at one of its Charlottesville, Va., stores in an attempt to speed the process."This is a one-store test for us," said Tawn Earnest, corporate communications coordinator for Food Lion, which has five stores in the Charlottesville marketplace. "We are the first supermarket

SALISBURY, N.C. -- Recognizing that consumers don't enjoy waiting in checkout lines, Food Lion here is testing self-scanning stations at one of its Charlottesville, Va., stores in an attempt to speed the process.

"This is a one-store test for us," said Tawn Earnest, corporate communications coordinator for Food Lion, which has five stores in the Charlottesville marketplace. "We are the first supermarket in the area to have a self-scanning system," she added.

The chain installed three self-scanning stations from Productivity Solutions Inc., Jacksonville, Fla. in late March. Consumers scan their own groceries at the stations, which can handle all sizes of orders.

The stations feature a touchscreen and have an automated voice that announces to consumers the products scanned and their prices.

"If it's a produce item, the consumer can touch the screen and it will ask [the consumer] to type in what type of produce it is or pick a picture that matches the item," Earnest said. Once the item is selected, it can be weighed and priced at the station.

"You can do it quickly," she said, noting the retailer's research showed that consumers don't want to wait in line.

A customer who discovers a price discrepancy during the scanning process can press a help button on the touchscreen that will alert an attendant.

When all the items are scanned, the consumer receives a printed receipt, which is presented at one of two pay stations that serve the three self-scanning checkout lanes.

Although the consumer scans all the items, the system does come with a safeguard to prevent inappropriate purchases by minors.

"The system also has a cashier lock built into it. So if you buy something such as tobacco or alcohol that has an age restriction on it, it will be noted in the bar code and receipt," Earnest said. "When you take your receipt to the pay station and pay for your purchases, the attendant will ask for identification."

The retailer said it hopes the test, which has no projected end date, will expedite purchases.

If the stations help improve checkout efficiency at the store, more stations could be added to other stores, Earnest told SN.

"We are positioned as a low-priced leader that gives our customers convenience," Earnest said. The self-scanning stations are another way to reinforce that position and get customers through the store more quickly, she added.