By Susan Nunziata
Stop & Shop is testing a handheld portable scanner in 90 of its New England stores that enables customers to scan and bag their own groceries as they traverse the aisles.
The system uses the Modiv Shopper portable shopping assistant powered byMotorola's MC17 mobile computer, designed to withstand daily use, including accidental drops and spills.
The devices are located in docking stations at the front entrances of stores, along with bags. Only Stop & Shop loyalty card holders can use the devices; they must scan their card to begin using the handheld.
When shoppers are done scanning and bagging their items, they can take the scanner to self-checkout kiosks, where their purchases are downloaded from their scanner and they can pay without having to unpack their items.
While Stop & Shop spokesman Rob Keane declines to reveal security details, he says extra measures are in place to ensure that shoppers are exiting only with items that they have purchased.
The Modiv Shopper system has been in place in stores in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island since October 2007. Keane says early results are not yet available to share.
In addition to giving customers scan-and-bag capabilities, the devices also give shoppers instant price checks and running totals.
But what makes the setup most attractive to the grocery chain -- and to the many consumer goods companies selling their wares in the stores -- is the potential to drive sales through in-store marketing and promotion.
Shoppers receive targeted coupons and other promotions pushed to them via the devices as they shop. For now, the offers reflect what's available in the store's weekly circular. In the future, offers can potentially be targeted to individuals based on items they're currently purchasing. For example, if a package of hot dogs is scanned, a promotion reminding the shopper to pick up buns could offer a coupon for a particular brand.
Receiving such offers at the "moment of decision," while shoppers are in the store, is key to driving sales. Stop & Shop's Christine Dorman, SVP operational and strategic initiatives & support services, says the system enables shoppers to make "efficient and smart buying decisions through relevant product promotions and information."
According to the Food Marketing Institute, 70% of all purchase decisions are made in the store. //