This week's book giveaway is in the General Computing forum. We're giving away four copies of Arduino in Action and have Martin Evans, Joshua Noble, and Jordan Hochenbaum on-line! See this thread for details.
The first store in Europe to scrap traditional tills altogether.
Items are scanned and placed in a carrier bag placed on a weighing scale. Each item has it's weight programmed on the scanned bar code. If an item is placed in the bag without scanning the till raises the alarm.
Must say #i've never come across this in any store yet. I think once they reduce their redundant till staff there's bound to be theft or mistakes. Customers may not think too carefully about what they do , as long as they pay the amount totalled up and get the right change. And some shop just once a week. [ October 27, 2004: Message edited by: Helen Thomas ]
Self scanning was introduced years ago in Safeway supermarkets across the UK (circa 1995???)
As long as you were a registered customer, you picked up a hand scanner and scanned everything you put in your trolley. Once you had finished shopping you hung the scanner back on its hook and were automatically issued with a till roll printout which you took to a checkout to pay (no need for staff to rescan)...
every now and then the printout you got informed you that you had been selected for a random rescan of your trolley contents and if the scanned total was out by more than 10%?? on three occassions you were banned from using the service.
The theory was that savings in staff costs would counter balance the inevitable slight increase in theft and in fact most errors on the random rescans indicated that people were in fact likely to overpay (accidently scan some items twice when putting them into the trolley) rather than underpay (put intems into the trolley without scanning them).
Does this still occur in UK? Australians I talk to dont believe that any serious business could possibly use a system so dependant on honesty!
Joined: Jan 13, 2004
Funnily I shop at Safeways quite regularly and never noticed queues of people handing the slips printed out to pay - so I guess that idea didn't quite take off. Perhaps too many people found they were paying too much and stopped using the system. Pity - it sounds like a good idea.
Similar system has been in operation in some supermarkets in the Netherlands for years. In fact it's even more automated, when you place the scanner back in the rack it automatically contacts your bank and the amount is transferred from your account to the store's. All you have to do is enter your PIN and press a button, then take the receipt out of the slot.
So far it's not widely used mainly because of the cost involved I guess (15-16 year old schoolgirls are still cheaper than the machinery needed).
There's a Sainsbury's near to where I work that does a similar thing, but only for small shops e.g. a city worker buying their lunch. You put the items you want to buy in a carrier bag on some scales and then use a touch screen menu to declare what is in the bag. If the weight matches what the computer predicts it will be, then you can stick in your credit card and pay for it. This means that you don't need to go to a check out at all. The real sneaky skill here would be to know which cheap items weigh the same as expensive items
Joined: Jan 13, 2004
They could put extra checks like using colour codes. As carrots, for example, are going to be grown in a range of colours to encourage children to eat, natures's colour codes isn't going to be good enough. :roll:
I guess this is one problem that won't be solved overnight. Relying on an honest population and non dopey population. I invariably leave my car keys at the till. Why on earth do I feel the need to dig out the car keys then !
Joined: Jan 13, 2004
RFID tags are supposed to be the new bar codes nad will get cheap enough eventually.
I *love* self-checkout and will actually go out of my way to visit a store that has it rather than wait in line at a more convenient place. Many places in the States use similar systems, including Wal-Mart, KMart, Harris Teeter (grocery store), BJ's (warehouse store), and others. In all those I mentioned, there are unmanned registers. You scan your items and place them on the conveyor, which weighs the item. If the weight does not match the stored weight of the item you scanned, you're asked to retry. Multiple failures summons an employee. Once all the scanning is done, you pay with credit/debit card or cash, and you're on your way.
It's a beautiful thing.
Also, I've tried out the grocery delivery thing a time or two as well. That is nice but I still prefer to pick out my own food. Kind of the same way I won't allow my bank to pay my bills because I still prefer to actually write those checks. (Well, I'd *prefer* not to write the checks, but you get my meaning.)
I really like self-checkout as well, and generally make use of it at my local super market and other stores such as BJ's, Walmart, Home Depot, and K-Mart. Unfortunately, what this technology has taught me is that some people are just too stupid to be able to checkout on their own. I've seen too many people who seem unable to grasp the concept and whose ineptitude generally makes the lines actually go slower than if a competent employee were doing the checkout. For the majority of folks who have no problem with self-checkout and checkout rapidly as if they had a purpose in life other than to make the folks behind them wait, it's a nice thing.
Here's something most of you can never have. A "smart" handbag. It will keep track of contents which each have a computerised fabric patch which can be Velcroed on to accessories. Each patch contains a microprocessor and memory and a range of extra functions like radio transceivers or microphones. The user can put together different combinations of patches depending on what functions they want.
When the handbag is picked up it will pick up signals from tagged items like wallets and keys and a voice will alert the owner to missing items. A bluetooth chip will read the weather forecast off the net and advise the owner to take an umbrella if rain is on the way. Gets complicated now. What happens if thieves pick it up ?