Check out the Kroger store of the future

Don't Waste Your Money

No one likes standing in long grocery lines, especially behind someone buying $300 worth of food, then pulling out a stack of coupons.

So then imagine a grocery store of the future where there's no need to wait in line, where checkout takes just seconds. It's closer than you think.

No more waiting in Line

In the old Hanna Barbara space age cartoon "The Jetsons" , everything from flying cars to food happens automatically.

We're not at flying cars yet, but more and more supermarkets are experimenting with Jetson like-checkouts.

We caught up with Northern Kentucky shopper Jill Mason and her daughter who were using a device called "Scan-Bag-Go".

It is currently being tested by the supermarket chain Kroger, at its Cold Spring, Ky. store.  And just this week, the system is going into its Loveland, Ohio store, at the Kroger on Loveland-Madeira Road.

"I love it, it keeps a running total of everything you spend," said Mason.

"Scan-Bag-Go" is a handheld wand you wave at bar codes as you shop. It keeps a running tally of everything you purchase, so there's no surprise at checkout. Best of all, checkout takes just seconds.

"When you get done with your shopping experience, instead of taking the products out of your cart and having them scanned by a cashier, you've already done the scanning and the bagging,"  explained Kroger spokesman Keith Dailey.

The east coast chains Stop and Shop and Giant foods are already using a similar system called "Scan It" in some stores. They plan to roll it out into more stores soon.

Another version currently being tested, uses a smartphone instead of a wand to scan items. You then show your phone at checkout, and pay. It saves the store the cost and maintenance fees of handheld devices.

Automatic checkout lanes

Another Jetson-like device also being tested by Kroger, is something called "Advantage Checkout".  It's now in use at the Kroger in Hebron, Ky.

It looks like an airport X-ray machine, or MRI, but it's really an automatic scanner. And unlike the airport scanners, it's fast. I ran a small cart of groceries through the tunnel, and it scanned them all well under a minute, 34 seconds to be precise.

It scans from multiple angles, so it doesn't matter which way you set down that loaf of bread of box of frozen food.

Dailey said "we know people don't like waiting in line and are strapped for time, so we want to find different ways to help move them more quickly though the store."

But will they catch on?

Not all these gizmos may succeed. Albertson's supermarkets dropped their self-scanning lanes earlier this year, sticking with human scanners for now.

Two years ago, Giant Eagle supermarkets discontinued its experiment with handheld scanners due to glitches.

But these latest models are much more accurate. And for busy moms like Mason, they save time and help her make sure she doesn't go over her budget.

So when will any of these new checkouts be rolled out near you?

No chain has announced a specific date, but if testing is successful, stores say you can expect to see some of these changes coming in the next two to three years. Kroger hopes to put "Scan-Bag-Go" into more Cincinnati area stores in the next few months.

Have you had the opportunity to try these new systems?  Post your experiences below or on my Facebook page.

If it comes to a store near you, you won't waste your time in line, and you don't waste your money.


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