Revolutionary New Checkout Scanner a Great Shopping Experience

Within days of the 40th anniversary of the first bar code scan in a retail store, the newest Tesco Extra store in Lincoln is offering customers a revolutionary new checkout alternative that improves the customer checkout experience by reducing the time spent in checkout queues.

40 Years ago Datalogic, the global leader in the development of automatic data capture (ADC) solutions for the retail industry, installed the world’s first bar code scanner in a supermarket. Today, their newest technology, allows the shopper to place their items on a checkout belt, in any orientation, and have them automatically scanned by the Jade™ X7 Automated Scanner. Items are then automatically directed to a bagging area just like traditional checkout lanes. This frees up staff to spend more time engaging with shoppers and delivering great customer service at the checkout, driving up satisfaction and loyalty.

“We are always looking for innovative ways to support our colleagues to give great service and to improve the shopping experience for our customers,” said Nigel Fletcher, a Director at Tesco. “We’re looking forward to seeing what our customers in Lincoln think of the new checkouts over the coming weeks and months.”

As the shopper places items on the checkout conveyor they pass through scanning arches which automatically read bar codes and visually recognize items at a much higher speed than a traditional checkout configuration. The items are then directed to one of three bagging areas for bagging and payment and the next customer’s transaction can begin immediately.

Datalogic has invented the Jade X7 Automated Scanner using advanced high performance imaging and provides the technology as a key building block to key system integrators around the world who customize checkout installations to meet the specific needs of retailers and their customers. The new, high-speed retail checkout for Tesco was designed by NCR allowing up to three customers to pack and pay for their shopping simultaneously. The combined solution is capable of automatically scanning up to 60 items per minute.

“We are delighted that a world class retailer and innovator, such as Tesco, made the commitment to trial our Automated Scanning system,” states Mike Doyle, Datalogic U.K. Country Manager. “However, technology by itself is of little value if it doesn’t provide quantifiable benefits. That’s why Datalogic is fully committed to using our advances in technology as a tool to help retailers build a valuable and relevant shopping experience for their customers.”

Datalogic provides the building blocks for a completely re-invented checkout, enabling store associates to continue to deliver great customer service by reducing the time customers spend in the checkout lane. Datalogic continues their heritage of inventing, adapting, and applying technologies that aid retailers and system integrators in developing solutions that make the in-store shopping experience move valuable to customers.

About Datalogic

Datalogic Group is a global leader in Automatic Data Capture and Industrial Automation markets. As a world-class producer of bar code readers, mobile computers, sensors, vision systems and laser marking systems, Datalogic offers innovative solutions for a full range of applications in the retail, transportation & logistics, manufacturing and healthcare industries. With products used in over a third of world’s supermarkets and points of sale, airports, shipping and postal services, Datalogic is in a unique position to deliver solutions that can make life easier and more efficient for people. Datalogic S.p.A., listed on the STAR segment of the Italian Stock Exchange since 2001 as DAL.MI, is headquartered in Lippo di Calderara di Reno (Bologna). Datalogic Group as of today employs about 2,400 members of staff worldwide distributed in 30 countries. In 2013 Datalogic Group achieved revenues for 450,7 million Euro and invested over 35 million Euro in Research and Development with a portfolio of over 1,000 patents across the world.

Losing Sales at the Point-of-Sale

I am fortunate to live in a Southern California beach town. I have surfed most of my life because of my close proximity to the ocean. Unlike how it is portrayed in the movies, California beaches get cold in the winter, requiring surfers to wear wetsuits this time of the year.

I needed a new wetsuit this year and my shopping experience at the local surf shops left much to be desired because of their point-of-sale systems. They have the technology to provide outstanding customer service, so why aren’t they using it?

The town I grew up in has a small main street with over ten surf shops selling the same merchandise. This makes it very convenient for me to run down during my lunch hour and grab whatever I may need very quickly. On this occasion I needed a specific size of wetsuit so I made a few phone calls to make sure they had my size. I found two stores right across the street from one another that had my size. The first store couldn’t tell me the color of the wetsuit. The other store told me they had one in black after they put me on hold and physically checked. When I asked each of them if their other store locations had any in stock, rather than looking up stock balances on their point-of-sale systems, they gave me the phone numbers to the other stores and told me to call myself.

Feeling confident, I headed down during my lunch hour to buy my new wetsuit. When I walked into the first store, they had my size, as they told me they did on the phone, but the only color they had was red! Their point-of-sale software couldn’t give them that important information and so they couldn’t relay it to me. I shot the sales person an unhappy look, and he simply said, “I know”. So I left that store with my $400.00 and walked across the street to the second store that had my size and in the standard black color that I wanted.

I found the wetsuit in the second store right away. The time limit on my parking meter and lunch hour were expiring so I was in a hurry. I took the wetsuit to the first counter and the clerk told me the system was down; and then asked if I could move to another checkout counter. At the next one, the girl said the receipt printer was out of paper and she didn’t know how to replace it. At the third counter, the clerk could ring me up but only if I were paying cash because they were trying to fix a credit card machine batch error. Each of their checkout counters are in different places throughout the store, so at that point I was done. They also lost a $400.00 purchase due to their point-of-sale system.

Walking back to my car, I decided to quickly check a smaller store on the same street. Rather than searching myself, I simply walked up to the counter and asked them if they had the black wetsuit I wanted in my size. The clerk looked it up on the screen and then brought it back to me while I never left the counter. That’s service! Their point-of-sale system was quick and efficient. Since I’m in the point-of-sale industry, I also noticed that they had up-to-date hardware, software, and credit card processing. The efficiency of their point-of-sale system made it easy for me to buy and earned them the $400.00 sale.

Driving back to the office, I wondered how many times sales simply walk out of stores because of their point-of-sale systems. The products most retailers sell aren’t unique so the emphasis should be on customer service and making it easy for a customer to buy. Otherwise, a customer can simply walk to another retailer and buy the same item. Follow these tips to insure your point-of-sale system isn’t costing you sales.

Training – Training your front line employees on the proper use of the point-of-sale system should be a top priority. This training should include all aspects of the system that allow them to serve the customer more efficiently. Most clerks seem to know just the basics, and any anomaly forces them to stop production (sales) and wait for help. Just think about how many times you’ve been in a line and are forced to wait while a customer pulls out a coupon, is exchanging merchandise, or is trying to buy an item without a bar code.  And these are just the basics.

Cashier training should also include advanced functions such as checking stock levels for in-store customers as well as call-in customers, checking stock levels at other stores, initiating a store transfer, searching for merchandise in the system, ringing items with missing bar code tags, and any simple hardware malfunctions that may occur (these would include changing receipt paper, rebooting a computer, and so on).

Accurate Inventory – The accuracy of the point-of-sale information is only reliable when the users are reliable and disciplined. Unreliable information is an indication of an undisciplined user. How many times have you heard store employees say “the system shows we have one, but I’d call first to verify.”? Or worse, a store tells you the system confirms they have several, and you make the trip, only to find they have none.

To insure accurate and reliable on-hand inventory levels within the point-of-sale software, the user must:

  1. Perform a regular physical inventory. These should be performed quarterly as part of the auditing process when preparing quarterly financial statements.
  2. Cycle Counts – If a quarterly inventory process is too much of a challenge, perform cycle counts within the best selling departments or vendors lines.
  3. Do not allow employees to sell goods classified with a miscellaneous SKU (Stock Keeping Unit). Inventory levels will never be adjusted properly.
  4. Scan the bar code of every item sold. Entering an item number manually into the system will never account for size and color based items. An item UPC (Universal Product Code) bar code is different for each size and color.
  5. Insure the store locations are communicating with each other flawlessly. Whether your system is a real-time configuration or a polling configuration; proper communications will either make or break the reliability of the point-of-sale information. Sales, returns, receiving, adjustments, and transfers all affect stock levels. A store location can never know if an item is in inventory or has sold out unless it is communicated to them.

Modern Hardware – You should pay attention to the aesthetics of the point-of-sale hardware just as you would to any other store fixture. You will interact with customers more at the cash wrap than any other area in the store; so make sure to make it a pleasant experience.

Most name brand hardware today is a bargain compared to a few years ago. It also gives your store an updated appearance. Although it will cost slightly more than “cheap” hardware, it will more than pay for itself with the reliability it offers. Modern hardware also requires less real-estate at the cash wrap; touch screens and flat screens don’t require a mouse and take up less space. An all-in-one type of unit offers all of the components, including the computer, built into the monitor.

The best part of name brand point-of-sale hardware is that it works reliably. POS hardware companies have industrialized their computers and peripherals to meet the rigorous demands of the retail environment. These types of computers and printers will cost more, but their duty cycles vastly outperform any comparable consumer level device. Consumer level computers are not designed to operate non-stop for 12-24 hours per day.

Integrated Credit Card Processing – Save yourself and your customers the frustration of those little grey boxes. Anytime you can minimize devices or suppliers, your quality will always improve. Most point-of-sale systems today offer a credit card processing feature within the application. Using the software versus dedicated hardware allows you to speed transaction times, reduce costs for paper and dedicated phone lines, decrease training confusion, reduce theft, and free up valuable counter space. It’s a winner on all levels.

Easy To Load Receipt Printers – The days of 2-ply and 3-ply receipt paper are long gone. Most point-of-sale software today allows you to recall a receipt onto the screen for reprints. If your software has this feature, dump the slow dot-matrix printer and get one of the faster thermal printers on the market today. In addition to being fast and quiet, they also offer lower paper costs and can be loaded with the press of a button. When the paper runs out, cashiers simply press the open button and drop in a new roll. Anyone can learn this within seconds, and they will no longer have to wait for a manager to perform the old task of threading multi-part paper through the maze of spools.

Having a point-of-sale system and using it strategically are two very different things. Rather than using the point-of-sale system as a glorified cash register; use it to provide superior customer service. The difference will earn you the sales that are walking out of your competitor’s doors.

What to Look For: Grocery POS Systems

Walk into a grocery store or your neighborhood specialty market today and you’ll see the basics of a high level point of sale system:  bar code scanners, thermal receipt printers, cash drawers, pole displays, and cashier work stations. But what sets this high-traffic, speed-oriented industry apart from other point of sale users is the need for fast and accurate scanning combined with precise weighing of products. That means you’ll also want the best scanner and scale combination, capable of maintaining a high level of check-out speed without sacrificing accuracy.

When putting together a grocery store point of sale system, the choice of hardware and software is based on whether the store will include just one lane or multiple lanes for customer checkout. When building a single-lane system, you’ll need just a stand-alone POS, while multiple lanes will require a networked system with each lane tied into the system. During the hardware selection process, each part must be configured to communicate with every other piece in the system.

Here’s a short primer on the different components generally included when assembling a grocery POS system.

Grocery POS system components

Scanner/Scale:  The scanner and scale, or platter, as it’s often called, sets grocery store POS systems apart from those used in other industries. The scanner/scale combines a highly sensitive scale used for produce, bulk foods, and other items sold by the pound, with a laser bar code scanner.

When considering this hardware combination, supermarket owners have two choices, adaptive scanner/scales and integrated scanner/scales. The difference?

Adaptive scanner/scales mean that both the scanner and scale are stand alone units, designed separately and often by different manufacturers. Choosing an integrated scanner/scale for a grocery POS application means that both products are incorporated together at the factory, and there’s no duplication of power supplies and cables.

Cashier work station:  In many cases the work station incorporates several other pieces of hardware such as receipt printers and cash drawers. The centerpiece is a touchscreen display, showing the checker all relevant data on one screen.

Thermal receipt printer:  Supermarket POS systems often print thousands of receipts each day, many of which include 50 to 100 items each. When identifying a POS receipt printer, most experts point to printer speed as the highest priority. And since the sound of a printer chattering away every few seconds can disturb both customers and cashiers, look for receipt printers that fall on the silent end of the spectrum. The auto-cut feature means there’s minimal pulling or tearing to get the receipt off the roll.

Grocery POS Software:  A point of sale software package combines tracking of customer transactions and credit/debit card readers with management of peripheral devices such as cash drawers and pole displays. You’ll gain a wealth of targeted data about your customers, products, and inventory, and get a handle on individual cashier effectiveness.

Pole display:  Used to display the total amount due, pole displays provide an easy visual for the customer and speeding up the transaction. In many cases, the display also scrolls the individual items as they scan, preventing price disputes which can also cause long delays.

Specialty Grocery POS system pieces

While the basic configuration of supermarket POS systems hasn’t changed a whole lot over time, here are a few recent additions implemented for the benefit of both grocers and customers.

Self-checkout stations:  While the larger chain supermarkets started the self-checkout trend, a combination of customer demand and cost saving measures drives these additions. Just like lanes manned by checkers, both hardware and software for self service stations connects to the point of sale system.

These all-in-one stations offer a variety of bagging configurations, based on store volume, and include high-quality scanner/scales, touch screen displays, cash dispensers, card processing terminals, and integrated receipt printers.

Bottom-of-the-basket loss prevention: As in many industries, loss prevention is a big factor in today’s supermarkets. Experts estimate that the grocery industry as a whole faces bottom-of-the-basket losses of $70 to $80 million every year. And these losses can slice five to ten percent of net profit from an already lean bottom line.
Grocery POS
That’s why scanners with image recognition software are emerging for use in grocery POS systems. For example, LaneHawk, by Evolution Robotics, incorporates a camera embedded in the check stand, designed to watch the bottom of the grocery cart. While the cashier is busy scanning the rest of the order, the camera pans the cart, looking for forgotten items. As the item packaging is recognized, the integrated software creates pop-ups on the checker’s display screen, prompting her to add the extra items to the order. And item descriptions and UPC information goes directly to the grocery POS.

Putting together a grocery POS system doesn’t have to be complicated. But you’ll want to do some research and talk to your POS reseller first to ensure the components you select meet the volume requirements of your supermarket or grocery store.