MARSH TESTS PORTABLE SELF-SCANNING TECHNOLOGY

INDIANAPOLIS -- Marsh Supermarkets here is testing portable self-scanning technology, following a reported test of stationary self-checkout technology.Marsh's Nobelsville, Ind., supermarket provides approximately 65 units for customers who want to scan their own groceries as they shop, according to a source familiar with the situation. Marsh confirmed that it is using the technology, but declined

INDIANAPOLIS -- Marsh Supermarkets here is testing portable self-scanning technology, following a reported test of stationary self-checkout technology.

Marsh's Nobelsville, Ind., supermarket provides approximately 65 units for customers who want to scan their own groceries as they shop, according to a source familiar with the situation. Marsh confirmed that it is using the technology, but declined to comment on specifics about the program.

Marsh's use of the portable self-checkout system follows a test it conducted of a stationary self-scanning system, according to another source familiar with the situation. Customers obtain the units by presenting their frequent-shopper card, then are free to move about the store aisles, using the unit to scan item bar codes for each chosen product. The handheld scanner electronically keeps a running total of the items being purchased. Once shopping is complete, customers return the unit to its rack, where a receipt is printed.

Customers are then directed to a dedicated pay station, where a clerk deducts any discounts or coupons, and processes the payment for the shopping trip. The units were installed in November.

The handheld self-scanning technology, provided by Symbol Technologies, Holtsville, N.Y., is already in widespread use in Safeway U.K., London. Among the other retailers using the technology in some stores are Cincinnati-based Kroger's Nashville KMA; Sam's Club, a division of Wal-Mart Stores, Bentonville, Ark.; Hannaford Bros., Scarborough, Maine; and the Calgary Cooperative Association, Calgary, Alberta.

Stationary self-scanning units are also being used in several chains. Kroger has been testing stationary self-checkout units in its Dillon Cos.'s Denver-based King Soopers; Kroger's Louisville, Ky., division and its Central KMA, Indianapolis. A&P, Montvale, N.J.; Price Costco, a division of warehouse-club retailer Costco Wholesale, Issaquah, Wash.; Winn-Dixie Stores, Jacksonville, Fla.; and Balls Food Stores, Kansas City, Kan., are among the retailers also using stationary self-checkout units.