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9 Ways Supermarkets Are Going High

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Josh Grossman is director of marketing for SavingStar, where he helps people save money on
groceries without clipping or printing coupons. Follow him @JoshGrossman28.
There are several companies, such as FreshDirect and Tesco, that are reinventing the grocery
shopping experience in an effort to make procuring food a convenience, as opposed to a timesucking errand. But even though most would agree they don't care for the weekly trip to the
grocery store, 98% of groceries are still bought that way.
This may be why companies are using new technology to make the shopping experience better at
traditional supermarkets. Heres a look at some of the creative ways they're doing this.

1. Locating Products
Aisle411 empowers anyone with a mobile phone to find products within retail stores. Easily find
the in-store aisle location of a single item or route your entire shopping list on a mobile map of
your store. Aisle 411 works in hundreds of stores around the country. The best part: No more
aimless searching.

2. Grabbing a Cup of Coffee

Coinstar makers of the ubiquitous green vending machines that convert your change into cash
or giftcards just announced a new partnership with Seattle's Best Coffee, to roll out new Rubi
coffee kiosks. Five hundred machines will be introduced this year with thousands more coming.
According to Coinstar, The new Rubi kiosk provides a unique offering by grinding and brewing
fresh whole beans in a single cup process on demand and around the clock. The Rubi kiosk
serves brewed coffee and specialty drinks including mochas and vanilla lattes with price points
starting at $1.00.

3. Self-Serve Scanning
Earlier this year, Catalina Marketing bought Boston-based startup Modiv Media. Modivs handheld in-store scanners as well as its mobile app enable shoppers to scan bar codes and let
customers ring up purchases as they stroll through supermarket aisles. That means there's no wait
for a cashier to check a customer out at the end. The companys Scan It! Mobile app is free on
iPhone and Android and can be used at Stop & Shop stores.

4. Management Alerts When More Registers

Are Needed
Supermarket chain Kroger has introduced a system called QueVision which counts the number
of people entering and leaving the store using heat-sensitive infrared sensors. According
toSupermarket News, The system also features infrared sensors above the checkout lanes that
can detect the number of units of shoppers a unit could include a mom and two kids in
line, and their average wait time. Managers are then alerted to how many registers should be
open in fifteen minutes and thirty minutes in order to reduce customer wait time.

5. Supermarket Mobile Apps

Many chains have introduced their own mobile apps with several useful shopping features.
TheWegmans mobile app, for example, lets you scan a barcode on a product and automatically
add it to your shopping list. It also features recipes and the ability to add the ingredients directly
to your list. Weis Markets mobile app lets you view the weekly circular, and create and email a
list to someone else. The Android version lets shoppers use their voice to add items to the list.
With the new Harris Teeter mobile app, an enhanced store locator adds GPS technology and
driving directions. Shoppers can also view their shopping lists offline and integrate them with
their desktop shopping list. The application even provides text message notification and the
ability to pre-order subs and sliced meats and cheeses in select stores.

6. Kid-Friendly Carts
Ever get exasperated trying to entertain the kids while grocery shopping? Last year Denver area
supermarket chain King Soopers introduced video-equipped car-shaped carts. Theres a screen
inside each kid car that plays videos like Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and another screen that plays
30-second commercials about the stores products for the parents.

7. Fuel Rewards
Many supermarkets across the country now reward shoppers with discounts on gas based on how
much they spend at the grocery store. For example, Stop & Shop rewards $0.10 per gallon
savings at Shell for every $100 spent. Some chains have introduced specials to lower gas prices
even further. In April, for example, Spartan Stores ran a two-day deal offering .50 cents off a
gallon, up to 20 gallons, for every $100 spent in its stores. Usually a shopper would have to
spend $500 to earn these savings.
The new Fuel Rewards Network from Excentus rewards users with fuel savings at participating
Shell stations across the country when they buy groceries at more than a thousand stores,
including Winn-Dixie, Jewel-Osco, and BI-LO. Additional fuel savings are available on Fuel
Rewards Network when you buy specific items at the grocery store.

8. Scanning Without Barcodes

Toshiba has created a new scanner that recognizes any item in the store, meaning barcodes are
not necessary. The object recognition system uses pattern and color recognition to identity the
product, including fruits and vegetables, and variations of fruit like red delicious apples.

9. Automatic Checkout
Australian grocery chain Coles is working with IBM to install radio tags on grocery items that
could be read as you leave the shop, with the bill paid via smartphone from your credit card.
Now that would really cut down on checkout time!
What other innovations would you like to see at the supermarket?

esco's self-service checkouts are

getting friendlier


JULY 30, 2015

UK supermarket Tesco is making its self-service checkout voice

and phrases "friendlier, more helpful and less talkative" (Credit:
UK supermarket Tesco says it will update the voice and phrases of its
self-service checkouts. This, in itself, is nothing notable, but the
reasoning behind it tilts at a broader issue: how we expect
computers and robots to address us. Tesco's opinion? We don't want
them bossing us around.
Self-service checkouts were introduced in Tesco's UK stores in 2003
and there are over 12,000 installed across the country. Although the
retailer says customers find them quick and convenient to use,
feedback has also suggested that customers have felt pressurized
by the computerized voice instructions. They have been described
variously as "shouty" and "irritating."
There's no doubt Tesco will have spent a great deal of time crafting
the voice and phrases in line with the checkout process when the

self-service checkouts were first introduced and one could argue

that the overly instructive commands may have been necessary at
the time. One way or another, however, there is a recognition that
many people now find them overbearing.
In a bid to remedy this, Tesco says the machines have been made
"friendlier, more helpful and less talkative." Softer phrasing has
been introduced and six phrases that were deemed particularly
unhelpful have been removed entirely.
Amongst the phrases removed are "please scan your coupons,"
"please insert your card in to the chip and pin device," "please take
your items," "please take your card," and "type the item's
description." Anyone who has used a self-service checkout will attest
to the fact that these instructions are unnecessary, given that the
checkout process is a very familiar one and there are visual cues to
aid the process as well. By stating the obvious, such audio
instructions serve only to give a sense of robotic condescension to
which the customer has no recourse.
Of the phrases that have been updated, "please place the item in
the bagging area," has been replaced with "this can now be placed
in your bag," "approval needed," has been replaced with "we just
need to approve this," and "item removed from bagging area, return
item to bagging area before continuing," has been replaced with
"has something been removed from your bag?".
The newer phrases are noticeably less instructionary and
accusatory. Although they convey the same meaning, they
effectively put the customer on the spot to a lesser extent. They
cede more decision-making power to the customer (for example,
suggesting that something can be placed in a bag rather than
ordering it to be) and leave more room for recognition that a
problem may be the fault of the machine itself and not that of the

customer (for example, asking whether something has been

removed from a bag rather than assuming something has).
Although a microcosm of a wider trend, this is an interesting glimpse
into how we may ultimately expect helper computers and robots to
address us as such interactions become more prevalent. If Tesco's
changes are anything to go by, although we may know that these
helpers are simply programmed to speak in the way they do, we still
want them to do so with grace, etiquette and the underlying
recognition that the sentient user probably has a better grasp on the
situation that the non-sentient computer.
The new voice and phrases have already been installed in some UK
stores and will be rolled out to all UK stores by the end of October.
The video below compares the new, male-spoken phrases with the
old, female-spoken phrases.
Source: Tesco

Are self-service machines in

our supermarkets really the
way forward?
Automatic checkouts don't just annoy people they alienate them as well, writes Brendan Sharp,
22, in a piece that has won him this year's Wyn Harness Prize for young journalists

Brendan Sharp
Tuesday 18 March 2014

There are now half a million self-service checkouts in operation across Britain's leading
supermarkets Rex

Editor's Note: This award was set up in honour of one of

this newspaper's finest journalists, whose death in 2007
was a terrible shock. Wyn embodied values we hold
dear, and we wanted to recognise his legacy by
nurturing young talent. Brendan Sharp's article was
notable for two reasons: clarity of argument and
aptness of subject. The threat to manual workers from
automation is a challenge facing all advanced societies.
He addresses it in a compassionate and cogent way, and
looks destined for a long and glorious career in
journalism. Best of luck, Brendan and well done. Amol
In 2008, fewer than 100,000 self-service checkouts were in
operation worldwide. Tesco was the first major supermarket to
introduce them in the UK, aiming to make the customer
checkout experience more efficient. Staggeringly, more than
half a million now dominate our leading supermarkets. Are selfservice machines in supermarkets really the way forward? To
the leading chains Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury's and Tesco it
seems enough that self-service machines represent the concept
of "progress". But do they? For many customers, self-service is
likely to be frustrating, irritating and alienating. Having worked
as a self-service assistant in the centre of Cambridge, this
should not be the case.

Winning words: Amol Rajan (left), editor of The Independent, presents Brendan Sharp with a cheque
for 1,000 (Susannah Ireland)

The very fact that I was a self-service "assistant" (I still carry

the scars) shows their fundamental flaw. The machines mean
that staff have constantly to come to the assistance of
customers who stand gesturing and cursing at failed
technology. For whoever draws the short straw to man these
beasts during peak hours, it's simply "the PITTS" or "Post
Irrational Techno Torture" a government health warning should
be clearly displayed at each station.
Many products such as meat and poultry are supplied by local
farmers. Because all the food comes from different suppliers,
the packaging is printed with a unique identifying code. So the
code has to be entered when any customer tries to scan it.
Naturally, customers are confused when prompted with the sign

"Assistance Required. Product Restriction", with not a glimmer

of explanation as to the problem. How should they suspect that
they have themselves to provide such an obscure code for their
particular leg of lamb? Not many people possess psychic
abilities; besides, why should customers have to go to these
lengths when they are not being paid to do so?
Old-age pensioners can often be seen approaching these
machines with as little confidence as they would if walking up
to a hoodie on a dark night. Their stark sense of inferiority
especially as compared with the young, who are assumed to be
techno wizards is quite upsetting, because they are being
subtly humiliated. The worst thing about the attempt to
pressure people into self-service is that some pensioners can be
so lonely that a cheerful chat with the checkout assistant is
valued in a way that is painfully obvious. A smile, being asked
how they are by a polite, amiable and perfectly capable human
being, and not having to struggle awkwardly with packing their
bags, all make for civilised shopping, which can be consoling in
a way that an encounter with a failing machine clearly is not.
We would do well to remember what Marx wrote about
alienation where we are dehumanised and essentially no
better than machines or commodities. The self-service
obsession of the supermarket manipulates customers and staff
alike into being mere parts of the profit mechanism. The old are
confused and vulnerable. The young, with their headphones,
just sigh and tut resignedly as they drone incessantly like
demented clockwork toys.

With such a high unemployment rate, combined with the

liability of self-service machines, perhaps there should be a
mandatory number of manned customer tills to cater for the
varying demands of our retail culture. In a diverse cultural
society, supermarkets need to have a team to integrate
customers of varying nationalities. Speaking from experience,
the sad truth is that monotonous, malfunctioning machines
outnumber over-qualified and undervalued sales assistants. At
the crux of it all, customers crave efficiency, yet, ironically, they
are the ones putting in the overtime. Many have left, miffed,
manipulated and malnourished. The majority have enough on
their plate as it is. The sooner supermarket chains start
scanning that through their system, the better.

The pressure on supermarkets in the UK has been driven by the leading grocery retailers opening
small convenience stores across the country, new data suggests.
Tesco, Asda, J Sainsbury and Wm Morrisons have effectively cannibalised their own sales and
exacerbated changes in shopping habits by opening smaller, high street stores, figures from
property agent CBRE shows.
Store opening figures from CBRE states that while Aldi and Lidl have trebled in size since 1998,
this growth is "not sufficient to explain the sudden contraction in the big fours share of grocery
sales following 2011".
In its report, CBRE points to the "startling increase" in convenience store numbers over the last
decade. Since 1996, the number of convenience stores run by the "big four" has trebled. These
stores store include Tesco Express, Sainsbury's Local and M Local.
CBRE said: "Following the introduction of town-centre-first planning guidance in 1996, the
attention of Tesco and Sainsburys turned increasingly to convenience store expansion.
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"The proliferation of convenience store openings, in tandem with both online grocery sales
growth and the aggressive expansion activity of discounters generally, has meanwhile
progressively altered consumer shopping behaviour, encouraging repetitive top-up-shopping that
cannibalises some main grocery sales previously captured in the course of weekly one-stop
shops at superstores.
The CBRE report said the shoppers were "taking advantage" of the smaller ranges on show in
convenience stores.
However, it can take 10 to 15 convenience stores to generate the same sales as a supermarket,
meaning that the "big four" are losing sales as consumers are encouraged to shop in smaller
CBRE said: "The problem with little stores - and that includes Aldi and Lidl as well as
convenience stores, effectively all sub-15,000 sq ft - is that the grocery range they offer is so
narrow, barely 10pc of the range present in a full-line Tesco superstore.
"Consumers have not rejected range as such, they are simply taking advantage of discounted
goods where they are available, even if that means extending the grocery shopping trip to visit a
number of different grocery outlets.

Source: CBRE, PMA, Retail Locations

"Convenience shopping has morphed into comparison shopping, something pretty well unheard
of prior to the 2008 downturn. All of which is a headache for grocery majors used to both
customer loyalty and upwards only market shares."
Mark Price, the managing director of Waitrose, said last month that supermarkets are 20 years
out of date
Mr Price said that out of town supermarkets and the weekly shop were now a thing of the past
and that the changes in shopping habits are more fundamental than the growth of the discounters.
The Waitrose boss said: People are buying food for now. The notion that you are going to go
and push a trolley around for the week is a thing of the past. It is fundamentally changing the


Smart phone to avoid

queues in



JUNE 28, 2012 12:00AM


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Up Next

The future of shopping

The future of shopping


TIRED of waiting in line at the supermarket checkout? Soon

you might simply be able to walk straight out the door with
a trolley-full of groceries.
Supermarkets without checkout queues were yesterday heralded by the head
of Coles in a move that would radically change the shopping landscape in
Radio tags on grocery items would be read as you leave the shop and the bill
paid via smartphone from your credit card.
"The smart phone is going to be so much more important to people going
forward," Coles managing director Ian McLeod said at a retail forum in
"I can envisage stores where people have all their credit details in their
phone and are able to pay without physically having to go to checkout

While such an idea would be unprecedented domestically, it comes with a

global precedent.
German shopping outlet Metro recently adopted a system where a radio
frequency identification tag was printed on to items and was able to transmit
information about a trolley's contents.
Using credit cards synched to mobile devices, the transaction would then
immediately be charged to the linked account.
"All the information we need would be on the phone data base and we could
recognise you as you walk in," Mr McLeod said.
RFID tags are already used widely in passports, library books and gadgets
that let cars drive through tollbooths without cash.
Fat Prophets senior analyst Greg Fraser said if Coles decided to go down this
path, it would be "hugely significant".
"It would be significant because both Woolworths and Coles have
successfully trialled self-check out and the acceptance of that technology is
growing," Mr Fraser said. "Anything that helps customer service is a winner
and if it makes the time spent in a grocery store less, it would be a quantum
step forward."
The plan comes as a leading retail survey found Australians are increasingly
using technology to help them shop, with nearly 40 per cent having used a
smart phone or an iPad to shop.
The Australian National Retailers Association survey of 1000 people showed
38 per cent used a phone or iPad to compare prices in the past six months,
compared with 27 per cent late last year.
Big W director Julie Coates said yesterday the department store had released
an app last week for its toy department so customers could layby as well as
purchase items.

"No other retailer in the world has an app where you can purchase and
layby," she told a Sydney business lunch yesterday.
"In our businesses we are doing innovative things but we don't talk about it
She said it was likely that in the future department stores could be more like
showrooms, where customers could inspect products before buying online.