A blog about living in Aberdeen, New Jersey.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Stop n Scan

We visited the Stop n Shop at the corner of Routes 35 and 36 in Keyport last night and tried out their grocery shopping scanner idea. Physorg published an article about the new device back in 2008, but this was the first time we'd tried it.

My wife heard about the scanner from a friend who uses it regularly at the Aberdeen Super Stop n Shop. This woman employs the device to convince her kids that particular purchases are outside the family budget. The device keeps a running total on the bill, plus items can be added and deleted to the system. quite easily.

There's a rack of these scanners just inside the door at the Keyport store. We scanned our courtesy card at the terminal and it freed up a device for our use. (Well, actually the first device resisted our best efforts to free it, so we had to cancel out and start again.)
The scanner seems to know where you are in the store, because it quietly suggests things on sale. We unintentionally ignored the screen half the time, so we doubtless saved lots of money on things we didn't really need. But, on the other hand, it knows what you usually purchase and makes fairly reasonable suggestions. I have to say that after we made a lot of sale purchases and the device pointed out our savings on each piece, I was quite annoyed when we made a series of purchases of items not on sale. I think I enjoyed getting the positive strokes and felt bad when I didn't save any money. Or it was my competitive nature coming out.

What I liked best was that we wheeled up to self-checkout and used the device to scan a card above the cash register and that was it; we were done. Well, we had to pay, of course, but there was no emptying the cart to scan each individual item.

As we were leaving, the manager suggested that next time we bag our groceries as we shop to make settling up and exiting the store even faster. I think I'm in love.


  1. Scan and Bag is the BEST. THING. EVER.

  2. I do most of my shopping at Stop n Shop and always bring my own reusable bags. As I pick my items I place them in the "seat" part of the cart. When it begins to fill I pull over and scan and pack my items...love the reusable bags but they are very uncooperative...lol..I also love that I can weigh and price my own produce. Ive enjoyed the scanners and find it a much less mindless chore. It makes me think about what I am buying.....

  3. I set my reusable bags up in the cart, scan each item off the shelf and stick it right in the bag. No issues with how my bags are packed, and I get out of the store super fast when it's time to check out.

    Even when you buy something that has to be double checked (certain medications call for an ID check), I've never had to wait long for whoever is working to zip over and clear it out quickly. Love it.

  4. Snark alert.

    Gee, I imagine the next great innovation is having us unload the delivery trailers ourselves so we can open the cartons, scan the groceies directly into our car trunks and never have to leave the parking lot. Years ago, people were employed to apply the prices to each item, human beings ordered the inventory, many cashiers were needed to check out and bag the groceries. The union was strong and the pay and benefits could support a family... oh well, at least all this technological modernity has helped to keep food prices down.....NOT!

  5. You should read the arguments put forward to protect the inland canals when the railroads started to impinge on their commercial traffic. Are you saying that unions are meant to preserve the status quo? I'm for workers rights and collective bargaining but not for locking us into old technology for the sake of protecting jobs. I had a friend making $30/hr in the late 1970s early 1980s and his job was polishing the telephones people had been renting from the phone company before they were issued to another customer. And then there are the toll collector jobs -- do you really want to preserve those jobs instead of speeding on your way? Modern conveniences have improved our lives but always taken jobs. Irons and washing machines took some jobs away from laundresses and tailors. Those dryer sheets that let you dry clean your suit are making dry cleaners a thing of the past. The only advancement I'm trying to avoid is pumping my own gas in NJ. Like I said, I'm all for teachers and police/fire fighters being protected through unions, but grocery store cashiers are on their way out, my friend.

  6. But are we going too far? Cutting off our collective noses to spite society's face? The point is, not all technological advances saves labor. YOU are doing the job now. For free. I suppose you could argue that Stop And Shops share price and the financial health of the food industry in general is better since cutting their labor force so drasticly, but I'm not entirely convinced that share price and the resultive executive compensation is the be all and end all of all that is good and valuble. There comes a time when society has to weigh the pros and cons of these things. There are only so many teacher and fire fighter jobs to go around, after all. But we're a different society from back when I was a girl...I imagine you're near my age, Remember when people wouldn't buy grapes or any produce that were not picked by the Migrant Workers Union? Boy, those were the days, people had such exquistively developed social consciences! But who am I to say? An anonymous Luddite, using technology as a soap box.

  7. Chavez fought for collective bargaining rights and pay increases for migrant workers hand-picking the grape crop. Their rights were being violated because of who they were. This had been a problem for many years. For example, Mexican Americans were only allowed to be deck hands or painters in the US Navy during World War II, at least that's what I read in Chavez's bio on Wikipedia.

    Equal treatment under the law is a clear social issue worthy of popular support. I doubt that Chavez would have received much support in a fight against technological advancements in farming, even though many jobs were being lost through agricultural modernization even back then.

    I think unionized grocery store workers face an uphill battle if they want to protect their jobs against modernization. Countless auto workers were displaced by robots doing their repetitive jobs. And, like I said before, toll collectors are nearly extinct. The trend is towards minimum wage tenders who watch the customers use the computers and troubleshoot any problems.

    I understand the desire to get people to stop and smell the roses, not be mercenaries in this dog eat dog world. I'm with you on that, at least in principle. But there simply is no justice to be found in preserving repetitive jobs that can be successfully automated, even if a personal touch may be lost in the process. Society can show its sensitivity in this adjustment by mandating retraining for those workers.

  8. Good luck with that. Retrain for what? In/home elder care, there's an opportunity. Something to look forward to, a society of old and frail people dependent on an army of the lowly paid and resentful. I hope industries that are constricting their work forces will pay for retraining as well, but I don't think we should hold our breaths, do you?

    These times are a changin. Soon Wall St. will have most of the Medicare and Social Security money, mark my words. These venerable Federal programs will be "saved" when individual accounts are handed to fund managers for them to invest. Wall St is where money goes to grow, or so they keep telling me...Old people industries are a tailor made opportunity to get in on the ground floor....but those in the know will cash out soon or insure for the bust because the boomer bubble is destined to burst.

    The tyranny of the marketplace. Apparently, modern liberty equals existing completely at the mercy of the free market. Capitalism defeated communism, then it defeated democracy.

    We are the 99%.

  9. Grocery store scanners aren't exactly a conspiracy of big banks. I'm not sure what you're driving at anymore. The 1% don't even do their own grocery shopping. Remember when George Bush didn't know what a UPC symbol was when he was doing his Christmas shopping one year? That's a sign that the wealthy are out of touch with American life -- the 99%.

    These scanners help a lot of regular people do their shopping more quickly and efficiently. And this process is extremely democratic. Stop n Shop has allocated half of its cash registers for cashier service, so the market will decide about those jobs.

  10. I'm just concerned about the employment picture in general. Some devices, like self scanning, might actually be the opposite of "labor saving" since their use costs jobs. Saw this article this morning and came back to reference it for you, but that will be it...I'm starting to feel like a pest!


  11. The evaporation of the middle class and regressive taxation are the fault of stockholders and conservative legislators, respectively. Boards of directors aren't plowing their profits back into their businesses anymore, so companies can't hire more employees. Instead, they're paying their stockholders, sometimes even dismantling their companies a piece at a time to cash in. The corporate execs earn big bonuses based on short term profitability, even if it kills their company a few quarters down the road. They really don't have a long view on this whole healthy economy idea. They'd lay everyone off for a write off that would give them a profitable quarter and earn them a nice bonus, even if there were no workers left to make their damned widgets. Who cares? That's so next year.

    But modernization -- automation of the supermarket, for example -- is a constant phenomenon. You can't control it. You can blame yourself for voting in those conservative idiots in 2010 who simply don't care if the whole economy comes crashing down around us.

    Don't bemoan the loss of cashier and toll collector jobs. Worry more about the loss of America's societal balance. The whole thing is teetering.

  12. Point-of-sale Scanners are monitored by a cashier. Don't like the idea of them? Ask for help each and every single time you go in and use one! It (might)stop the incessant chatter between the crew for a minute or two and the constant glancing at their all important cell phones. Yeah, saving another "grateful" employee's job who resentfully has to interact with the customer...
    Me---I choose my cashier; the ones who treat me like a customer.
    And I am not for us doing the work I pay prices for employees to do unless I'm shopping in a cooperative.

  13. The portable scanner isn't much of an imposition. It's much better than running each product across the built-in scanner at checkout. Plus it allows you to see your running total and to see special offers. The best part is that you can just pay and leave. It's like magic. I think it's wonderful.

    As for amiable conversation with the cashier: I like chatting with my taxi driver, too, but I prefer it when my car isn't in the shop and I can drive myself to and from the station.