Saturday, January 3, 2009

Scan It!

Ron and I were in Giant Foods during rush hour, and Ron was flying through the place, wanting to get to checkout before the hordes descended. I, on the other hand was dawdling, with a hand-held scanner, zapping each item Ron put in the cart. Wow! A new toy! I was having fun!

Here's the drill. When you enter the store, you scan your shopping card at the scanner stand and pick up a scanner. Then, as you shop, you scan the UPC code on each item you put in your cart. I was bagging as we went along. For produce, you weigh the item, print out a label, stick the label on your bag of produce, and scan the label. It sounds a little complicated, but it really isn't.

And it's fun to use that scanner gun, shooting up those UPC codes, and watching the cost of your purchases mount up on its bright and happy screen. The scanner also contains store specials that you can look through, then purchase. Nothing like advertising right at your fingertips, right when you are most likely to make a purchase!

At checkout, a "checkout" UPC code is displayed where you normally would unload your groceries. You zap the checkout code and scan your shopper card, and voila, your itemized list appears on the checkout screen. At that point, you simply pay and leave the store. Our wait in the checkout line lasted all of 45 seconds.

I think as I continue to use the hand-held scanner, the process will go a lot faster. The scanner is actually much more sensitive about picking up UPC codes than the scanner at the checkout counters. And think of all the labor costs this is going to save Giant shareholders! Giant can probably lay off some checkers, oh, the perils of technology.

Of course, the new technology does nothing for the lamentable quality and diversity in the Giant grocery offerings. For some reason, yesterday, the produce was completely sucky. Produce bags were hard to find. The parsley was limp (kind of like me without my blue pill). Parsnips were not to be found. Some of the bliss potatoes were rotting in their boxes.

Technology, like the hand-held scanner, may be a shining jewel in Giant's crown, but the crown is otherwise rapidly losing its luster.