Scan-your-own-groceries system can speed you through checkout

September 08, 1993|By Chicago Tribune

CHICAGO -- Fed up with long lines at the checkout? In the supermarket of the future you could scan your own purchases one by one as you shop.

Albert Heijn, a 602-store Dutch company, has been experimenting with hand-held scanners (about the size of a portable phone) issued to each shopper. Shoppers scan the bar codes of items as they put them into their carts. When the scanner is replaced in its cradle it issues a statement and the customer pays the total at an express checkout.

At least that's the way it is working in the small town of Geldermalsen in the Netherlands. The system saves labor and time over the stationary self-scanning aisles being tried in some U.S. supermarkets.

But there is one major hurdle American grocery industry planners recognize must be cleared before such a process could be installed in stores in this country. The politically correct term for any stealing problem is "shrinkage," and there will need to be some refinements to the system to prevent it, say American grocers.

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