Self-service shopping from NCR and Symbol
A new customer self-service shopping solution is being launched by NCR and Symbol Technologies, combining Symbol's portable shopping system with NCR's FastLane self-checkout system, and allowing shoppers to scan and bag their own goods as they work their way around the store.
The new collaborative solution will give shoppers the option of scanning and bagging their selections in the aisles as they shop, while maintaining a running total of their purchases on a handheld scanner (Symbol's Portable Shopping System), then simply paying for their purchases at an NCR FastLane unit before leaving the store.
Alternatively, consumers may choose to use the FastLane check-out at the end of their shopping trip to scan, bag and pay for all of their items.
Making life easier Because the check-out is generally seen as the consumer's least favourite part of any shopping trip, the option to scan and bag goods in the aisles should increase customer satisfaction and retention by making the weekly or monthly shopping trip less frustrating.
And there is, of course, another side effect that may yet be observed: an increase in the frequency of shopping visits, as it becomes easier to complete a shopping trip quickly.
NCR and Symbol expect the solution to be piloted soon by an unnamed major food retailer in the USA.
How it works Symbol's handset is a scanning computer that communicates with the store server's pricing database using a wireless local area network (LAN) connection. The consumer uses their loyalty card to unlock a handset from a kiosk dispenser, automatically associating their personal identity with that specific handset for the duration of the shopping trip.
Customers wanting to scan and bag their goods at the end of the trip (without using the handheld scanner) can use FastLane's graphical touch-screen display, which also offers a friendly 'voice guide'. Meantime, those using the handheld scanner to scan and bag their goods in the aisles can simply finalise their order by scanning their loyalty card at the self-checkout.
The self-checkout unit accepts cash, coupons, credit cards, and debit cards in payment for goods, and is able to accept cheques through a staffed payment station (which the retailer has the option to install).
"Self-service is redefining the shopping experience, to the benefit of retailers as well as consumers," commented Mike Webster, vice president for NCR FastLane.