Scan2Go Supermarket Checkouts – Will Singaporeans Embrace This Technology?
The supermarket near my place is always crowded, with long long lines and 2-3 cashiers working at a time, even though there are possibly 6 counters. My mum will always be doubtful when I would go straight to the self-checkout counter.
“Mummy, we only have 5 items, and there is nobody there.” She still doesn’t quite understand how it works, on how I became the cashier, on who’s collecting the cash.
Just when she is starting to get convinced of its merits, the NTUC FairPrice Finest at Bukit Timah Plaza has already implemented a pilot Scan2Go system.
Scan2Go? Basically, this is the Scan-Bag-Go system where many supermarket chains in America, Europe and Australia (the Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury’s and Tesco) have already adopted years (like 10 years) ago.
Shoppers get a handheld scanner (after a one-time personalised card registration) which we can use to scan the barcode of items as we shop. Bag along the way – best if you can bring your own shopping bags. By the time we reach the cashier, we just pay and go because everything is already scanned and paid up.
The benefits are aplenty. For the customer, you avoid the long queues (wasted on bagging and scanning), can keep track of your total expenditure on the scanner, easy to use and it is kind of fun.
For the supermarkets facing challenges in hiring staff, the Scan2Go can reduce the need for staff to perform mundane duties, raise productivity levels and reduce cost – especially labour cost on activities which can be more efficient, in the long run. These issues have long been debated in public by NTUC’s leaders who have been looking for ways to raise wages by increasing workplace productivity.
You may want to ask the same questions as I did:
– How do I scan items without barcodes?
– What if I do not want to buy this item anymore?
– Isn’t it really troublesome (leh-chey lah) to keep scanning?
For loose items and weighable items such as vegetables and fruits, we just need to weigh the items on a self-weighing machine and scan the barcode on the shelves.
The scanner allows for easy deletion. Just click delete and scan. It can also reflect real-time details such as a product’s recommended retail price, promotional price, total number of items scanned, total accumulated spending.
Initially, I did feel clumsy (can’t find the barcode, can’t scan properly), but after my 3rd item, I got the hang of it.
This Scan2Go technology, partly funded by e2i’s Inclusive Growth Programme for productivity initiatives, has been on trial at FairPrice Finest at Bukit Timah Plaza since December with about 1100 registered users, over half used the system more than once. I found out that the reason of implementing there first was because the shoppers frequently make big purchases, ie lots and lots of items in their trolleys which potentially hold up the queue.
I take my mum as an example. She would still rather go to a bank to deposit cheques than use the quick cheque machines. She is afraid that her money would be ‘eaten up’ and she gets into the habit of chit-chatting with the counter staff. Will this Scan2Go system, after widely implemented lead to a cold impersonal supermarket experience?
Would customers be susceptible to ‘training’?
For the supermarkets, there could be shoppers who might take advantage of the opportunities for theft in such do-it-yourself checkouts.
To address the potential issues, NTUC FairPrice has dedicated some staff on educating customers about Scan2Go. Their idea is to further shift the focus from one that is operational-centric (repetitive work of scanning, staff rushing to clear queues) to one that is more service-oriented (staff has more time to converse with customers).
As for possible pilfering, cashiers will do random checks to ensure that items are correctly scanned.
We know the benefits – it improves productivity and saves time and costs in the long run.
What is your take if Scan2Go is being implemented in supermarkets in a big way? Not forgetting, that supermarkets overseas have already moved on to mobile scanning.