introverte (introverte) wrote,

Finally, Grocery Shopping for the 21st Century

This morning I found myself in Watertown and needing some groceries, so after hitting Russo's for produce, I went down the street to Stop & Shop (corner of Pleasant & North). I don't shop here often because my neighborhood Shaw's is more convenient, but I'm going to start doing so. It's a near-clone of the Brighton "Planet Stop & Shop" with the one drawback that the bakery is not heckshered. (That's probably for the best) I went there today because of its physical convenience and because it has an easier bottle return than my nearby Shaw's.

When I entered the store, I encountered something new, a display of handheld scanners. You scan your loyalty card, read the terms and conditions, and then take a scanner. The terms amount to: they won't sell your name blah blah, you agree not to loan out your card, and they reserve the right to double check your cart at the exit. There are bags at the scanner display so you can bag as you go, but I had my own reusables with me.

It was easy, sort of fun, and convenient using the scanner. The screen displays what you have just scanned, the price, quantity (you scan multiple times for duplicate items, a minor drawback) and any discount. At the bottom of the screen is a running total, and you have the option of deleting any items (although I didn't try to). I don't know how produce or other UPC-less items get scanned, since I had just bought my produce at Russo's. I imagine you just save them to the end and scan them at the checkout, which would partially defeat the purpose.

When I completed my shopping, I decided to use the self-checkout line. While these are a good idea, I have had lots of problems with them in the past and I don't think they really save time. There's the slowdown and potential embarrassment factor that the register has to announce loudly what you've just scanned and the price ("Condoms, $10.50. Whipped cream, $1.29") and the hassle of having to put each item carefully on the belt so it can be automatically weighed. Then if your bagging area fills up, the register makes you stop and take care of that.

This time, there was no hassle. I re-scanned my loyalty card at the checkout, and my scanner uploaded automatically. Then it was just pay and go. There is the option of scanning coupons before you pay but they won't let you scan the bottle return receipts, even though a UPC is printed on it. It was another minor drawback to redeem those at the customer service desk. I popped the scanner back in the display, and I was out the door in record time.

All in all, the ability to have a running total; bagging as you go, thereby eliminating the time-consuming and annoying need to unload the cart on the belt, explain how you want things bagged, and get it reloaded; and the rapid checkout were very, very cool. I'm probably willing to live with the minor problems, although this may only last until the first time I get my cart double-checked by a snotty employee.
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