FREQUENT SHOPPERS LIKE A&P'S SELF-SCANNING

MONTVALE, N.J. -- A&P's frequent shoppers in one store are giving self-checkout a thumbs-up; almost 20% of the 146 top customers surveyed reported they use the technology for every transaction and almost two-thirds said they've used self-checkout more than once."We find this encouraging and on par with what we are hearing from our other stores with self-checkout technology and we plan on moving forward,"

MONTVALE, N.J. -- A&P's frequent shoppers in one store are giving self-checkout a thumbs-up; almost 20% of the 146 top customers surveyed reported they use the technology for every transaction and almost two-thirds said they've used self-checkout more than once.

"We find this encouraging and on par with what we are hearing from our other stores with self-checkout technology and we plan on moving forward," according to spokesperson Andy Carrano, spokesperson for the chain, based here.

While he would not disclose the retailer's plans for rolling out the technology chainwide, he noted, "We're happy that technology has proven gratifying to our best customers."

The chain surveyed frequent shoppers at its Mahwah, N.J., store, which was retrofitted with self-checkout technology last fall. Survey participants shop an average of 2.5 times per week at the store, spending an average of $144 per week.

The store involved in the survey has five self-checkout lanes, along with 17 regular lanes and four express lanes.

Sixty-four percent of frequent shoppers have used the self-checkout lanes more than once, and 19% reported using the self-scanning option on every visit.

Forty-eight percent reported that they were very comfortable with the technology and 32% said they were comfortable with the system. Twenty percent said they were not entirely comfortable with the technology.

The acceptance of the self-checkout has been building over time, according to the survey. Fifty-six percent of those who use the system have been using it since its introduction; 44% started using it in the two or three months prior to the survey.

Carrano said flyers explaining the system were stuffed in shopping bags when the technology was introduced. All the frequent shoppers surveyed were aware of the self-checkout option.

Top customers using the automated checkout machines reported that did so to save time. Sixty-one percent reported they use the self-checkout to save time, 14% said they like the control and 12% said it was easier than regular lanes. Children play a factor; 11% reported they chose the option because their children enjoyed it.

When asked what they liked most about the self-checkout lanes, 80% of users said they were faster than the regular lanes. Ten percent liked verifying the prices as they went along.

When asked what drove them to use the self-checkout on a particular trip, 53% reported the length of lines at other lanes, 36% said it depended on their order size and 5% said it depended on the time of day.

Of the frequent shoppers surveyed who do not use the self-checkout lanes, 62% said they would be willing to try them. They offered comments such as, "If there were step-by-step instructions or someone there to show me how to use it, I'd give it a try," and, "I would be more willing to try it if they offered a bagger."

Twenty-seven percent of those who did not use self-checkout said they were not sure how it worked and 16% viewed it as too much of a hassle. Sixteen percent said they didn't want to scan, and 14% said they preferred to deal with employees. Eight percent said they hadn't tried it because they don't like it.

Although they do no use the self-checkout lanes, 83% of the frequent shoppers who have not tried the system said it was a good customer service option.

The survey was conducted by Willard Bishop Consulting, Barrington, Ill. The A&P store involved in the survey uses self-checkout technology from Productivity Solutions Inc., Jacksonville, Fla. A&P is also testing other self-scanning technology.