CINCINNATI -- Kroger Co. here will begin to add 50 more stationary self-scanning units to its stores starting next month. The first installation of this wave will be at a store under the City Market banner of Kroger's Hutchinson, Kan.-based Dillon Cos. division.
"These new units will give our customers one more option during checkout. Those that use the units in our other stores regard them as a convenience when shopping with us," said Paul Bernish, spokesman for Kroger. "Currently more than 30 Kroger locations are successfully using the self-checkout technology."
In May, the City Market store will be the first to install the technology. Bernish declined to comment on further installation schedules. The stores that will receive the units, however, will be determined according to the market, labor factors, and volume through the express lanes, he said. Dillon Cos. officials could not be reached for comment.
"The self-checkout units are helping us deal with a severe labor shortage -- a challenge that all retailers are facing," Bernish explained. "Of course, we would prefer to have all of our express lanes open, but often we cannot do this due to a lack of associates. The self-checkout technology is one way to address this issue."
City Market will install the system, which consists of four automated checkout units attached to a cashier station. The associate manning the cashier station will monitor, and provide necessary assistance, for all checkout activity conducted on the self-scanning units.
The units are equipped with an interactive touch-screen monitor that prompts customers through the scanning and checkout process. Customers also pay for groceries directly through the unit, which accepts cash, credit and debit cards.
Though self-checkout is only beginning to gain recognition in the U.S. supermarket industry, Bernish believes the technology will play a larger role in the future.
"I think there will be further refinements to self-scanning technology, and I would say that if I drew a curve to depict the market, it would show an up slope in terms of the technology that will become available on the market in years to come," said Bernish.
"We are pleased with the units that are in our stores so far," he added. "We are constantly exploring ways to improve business and the level of service we can offer our customers. This technology fits in with that desire."
The stationary self-scanning units are from PSC, Webster, N.Y.
Kroger has been testing stationary self-checkout units in Dillon Cos.'s Denver-based King Soopers; Kroger's Louisville, Ky., division; and its Central KMA, Indianapolis. 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 using stationary self-checkout systems.
Handheld self-checkout units are also being tested in several chains. The technology is in widespread use in Safeway U.K., London. Among the retailers using the technology in some stores are 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.