Monday, December 8, 2008

Chronicles of the New Giant: Scan It!

The Giant Food Store near me unveiled self-scanning this week ... a concept they are calling Scan It! When I say 'self-scanning', I don't mean self check-out. I mean you have a hand-held scanner and you scan items as you add them to your cart.

I've had a lot of people ask me about my experience with this new technology, including my peeps over at the Food Marketing Institute, so here is the full, objective scoop on how it works as well as my highly subjective opinion of it.

How it Works


  1. Walk into Giant and right up to a huge wall of self-scanners, manufactured by Motorola. They are all locked into place in slots on this wall.
  2. Scan your Giant Bonus Card, which unlocks one of the scanners. It flashes to let you know which one is yours.
  3. Pick up your scanner and also some bags if you want to bag your groceries (or you can of course bring your own bags
  4. Scan packaged goods by simply holding down on the scan button and scanning the UPC code. Place in bag in your cart.
  5. Scan produce by inputting the PLU code into an electronic scale, weighing the item, printing a bar code, and then scanning the code. Place in bag in your cart.
  6. If you make a mistake, click the Remove button and rescan the item to remove it and then place it back on the shelf.
  7. When done, go to any aisle to check out
  8. Scan a final UPC code to 'close' the electronic cart.
  9. Scan your bonus card again, choose a payment method, pay and go.

My 2-Cents on this whole process
  • Produce is a challenge. It takes a decent amount of concentration to work those scales, get the bar code, stick it to something, and scan it.
  • Bagging as you go sounds easy, but it isn't. The stores aren't laid out from heaviest items to lightest items, so it is hard. If I was going to do this a lot, I might just bring boxes with me, as they won't flop over in the carts.
  • It is very hard to juggle holding the scanner in one hand and pushing the cart with the other hand. If you happen to have a 10-month old baby in the cart who keeps dropping his pacifier, it all triples in difficulty. They need to add some type of 'holster' to the side of the carts to hold the scanner.
  • Self-scanning ads more time in the store, so it is absolutely critical that there be a pay-off at checkout. i.e. All of us trying the scanners thought there would be a dedicated check-out aisle where we just would pay and go. NO, THERE WAS NOT. After spending all that extra time to scan and bag in the aisles, we had to wait in line behind people slowly scanning their own groceries and bagging at checkout.
This last bullet is the key for me. Without dedicated checkout lanes, there is absolutely no motivation for me to self-scan. None. It will always be faster to toss a few things in a basket and go to a self-checkout line than go through the process of unlocking a scanner, scanning each item, then waiting in line, again. I asked one of the cashiers when they'd be creating dedicated Scan-It lanes for those using the hand-held scanners and the answer was NEVER. So when will I 'Scan-It' again? NEVER.

5 comments:

kingkool68 said...

I just had my first experiment with the Scan It at my local Giant. I totally agree about the lack of a holster. I just kept it on top of the groceries. It was pretty comfortable to hold in my hand though.

Even if there isn't a dedicated lane for checkout the benefits of seeing your total as you go long are tremendous. Now there are no more surprises at checkout!

You can read more about my experience on my blog -> http://www.russellheimlich.com/blog/grocery-shopping-with-a-scan-gun-at-giant/

Paul Jones said...

I have been using Scan It for about 6 months now and really like it. If I have my choice I will shop at Giant just because of this feature. Here are a couple of tips:

There is a learning curve, so don't just try it once. Keep practicing and you may find that you like it better after the 3rd or 4th shopping trip.

If you don't have them buy some green bags (like those that Giant sells) and keep them in your car. They are larger and sturdier than the plastic bags. I also purchased some small magnetic mini-clips to hold the bags steady and open in the cart.

If you don't have a small child with you, keep the scanner in the cart's child seat whenever you need a free hand.

Yes, produce is a challenge but it is a bit faster if you collect all of the fruits and vegetables on your list first, the go to the scale.

I have noticed that Giant does periodically open dedicated Scan It lanes when all of the lanes are busy.

Andy Hasselwander said...

I have been doing scan-it for a while but I am now officially never doing it again. First of all, I ran into the dedicated line issue. The store was mobbed, and no dedicated line for scan-it. So, I waited ten minutes. Then I was tagged for "audit". This means someone has to come over and scan a random 7 items to make sure you're not cheating. This took another ten minutes. When she finally came over, she found something I didn't scan. My bad... I bet this happens ALL THE TIME though. Then she says "you'll always get audited from now on." So I said "No, I won't, because I'm never doing this again." And, to add final insult to injury, the thing wouldn't accept my coupons, so I paid an extra $10 on top of what I should've paid. Bottom line--great idea, poorly executed. Sometimes you can't improve on the original.

Andy Hasselwander said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
imvery lucky said...

I have been using Scan It for about 6 months now and really like it. If I have my choice I will shop at Giant just because of this feature. Here are a couple of tips:

There is a learning curve, so don't just try it once. Keep practicing and you may find that you like it better after the 3rd or 4th shopping trip.

If you don't have them buy some green bags (like those that Giant sells) and keep them in your car. They are larger and sturdier than the plastic bags. I also purchased some small magnetic mini-clips to hold the bags steady and open in the cart.

If you don't have a small child with you, keep the scanner in the cart's child seat whenever you need a free hand.

Yes, produce is a challenge but it is a bit faster if you collect all of the fruits and vegetables on your list first, the go to the scale.

I have noticed that Giant does periodically open dedicated Scan It lanes when all of the lanes are
busy.