The Stop and Shop on Pleasant Street (right on the Watertown/Waltham line) has introduced the greatest improvement to grocery shopping since the barcode scanner. They call it EasyShop, and while I won’t say it makes shopping fun, it seriously decreases the pain.
When you first arrive at the store, there are a bunch of little handheld barcode scanners with color LCD panels on their backside, all locked up in a little kiosk. You scan your discount card and and one of the scanners unlocks for you. There are plastic and paper bags at the kiosk for your use as well. Then, as you shop, you scan the items you wish to purchase and bag them right away, in your cart. It tells you the price of anything you scan, giving you an option to add it to your order or forget about it. It keeps a running tally of everything you’ve bought, and you can remove anything from your order with a button press and a scan. For produce, they’ve set up little self-weigh stations that allow you to enter the produce code and print a barcode label.
Once you have everything you need, you head over to one of the self-checkout lanes and scan a little “I’m Done” barcode, then return the scanner to a rack. After scanning your discount card again your entire order is instantly transferred to the self-checkout register and all you have to do is pay and you’re done. This is so fundamentally better than any of the previous attempts at “self-checkout” systems, which too often relied on scale platforms after the register to keep track of the weight of things you’ve scanned at an attempt to ensure you aren’t taking more than you’re paying for. In my experience, about 60% of the time these scales malfunction requiring one of the employees to come over and swipe their card.
There were only a few suggestions I had for the system:
- Right now, to checkout using EasyShop, you have to use the general self-checkout lanes, which are often being used by people not using EasyShop. So you sometimes still have to wait around for the person in front of you to deal with all the usual frustrations with self-checkout. It would be nice if they had one or two EasyShop only lanes. Since there’s no need for a conveyor belt or such, these could be much smaller.
- As far as I can tell, in order add produce to the order you have to print out a barcode label using their printer. When I’m using my cloth reusable bags, I often just keep one bag for produce and don’t put my produce in the clear produce bags they offer. This means that not only is it wasteful for me to have to print out one of these barcode labels for each vegetable I buy, but once I’ve printed and scanned it, I have nothing to stick it to, since the produce isn’t in one of the plastic baggies. It’d be nice if there was an option that allowed me to be less wasteful.
- It’d be neat if they could come up with some way to help keep the tops of the bags open in my cart while I’m shopping.
All in all, though, these are minor suggestions, and I’m sure they will refine the system as time passes. Some people may be annoyed by the occasional “cha-ching” the scanner-phaser emits as it notifies you of a super-deal (a.k.a. advertisment)! This only happened to me 2 or 3 times in a 30 minute shopping trip and I quickly learned not to even look down when the cha-ching sound struck.
I noticed that the deli at this same Stop and Shop has a little computer kioskto input your order into… Next time I need some deli supplies I’ll be sure to give it a swing and report back to you