pacomartin
pacomartin
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November 22nd, 2011 at 5:18:09 PM permalink
Tell me what is wrong with this idea.

Stores (primarily supermarkets) start an application using Smart Phones. You sign up with a store and they give you a small allowance (say $50 to start with). You go through the store and pick up a few items, charging them to your account using a smart phone. The first time you get your account double checked at check out. Afterwards you are randomly spot checked to see if you are sneaking items out of the store. Obviously if there is a mistake with cat litter it is treated less seriously than one with ten pounds of choice steak. Eventually after a few times, you build up loyalty, and the allowance is increased. Probably some upper limit (say $300 is imposed) just to control the damage done by a customer who is leaving the area, and attempts to sneak out with a ton of expensive goods.

I see huge advantages with a system. It would foster extreme loyalty. Customers would no longer be adverse to stopping in a store to grab a few items since they would not have to wait in a check out line. They can attach a credit card so that they do not need to make a payment. They would be less likely to avoid the supermarket in favor of a convenience store since they won't have to wait in line. They might favor a local supermarket over a fast food chain because it is just as easy to purchase food.

The high end supermarkets are installing cafes and even pubs. In Nevada they have gambling rooms.

I can't see the downside to this system. I think if carefully done, shoplifting could be manageable. Most people trying to build a level of trust are not going to shoplift from their home store.

Why has no one tried to install a system for automated check out of small numbers of items?
Tiltpoul
Tiltpoul
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November 22nd, 2011 at 5:34:10 PM permalink
Quote: pacomartin


I can't see the downside to this system. I think if carefully done, shoplifting could be manageable. Most people trying to build a level of trust are not going to shoplift from their home store.

Why has no one tried to install a system for automated check out of small numbers of items?



One word... Discrimination. All it would take is "requesting to random check" the wrong person, and the supermarket is sued for more money than they possibly know.

I work in retail, and you can't stop a person unless you are 200% sure they are shoplifting. If you do make a bad stop, you'll be sued the pants off.
"One out of every four people are [morons]"- Kyle, South Park
AZDuffman
AZDuffman
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November 22nd, 2011 at 5:36:06 PM permalink
They are trying it without smart phones in some stores already. Customer uses a bar-code reader.

I would love to avoid lines. Self-checkout exists as well. "Automated" checkout may require a technological breakthru in RFIDs or scanning.
All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others
pacomartin
pacomartin
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November 22nd, 2011 at 6:26:38 PM permalink
Quote: Tiltpoul

One word... Discrimination. All it would take is "requesting to random check" the wrong person, and the supermarket is sued for more money than they possibly know.

I work in retail, and you can't stop a person unless you are 200% sure they are shoplifting. If you do make a bad stop, you'll be sued the pants off.



I can't believe that the discrimination problem is not manageable. In Mexico if you are passing some border check points you push a big button. A stoplight turns on either red or green. If you get a red, you are subject to a search. I suspect that they can increase the frequencies of red/green, but I don't think they can jury rig it to blink red because of profiling. It removes the personal aspect from the random check out.

Now they don't use a system like that for airplane boarding where safety is at stake. But they do use it for pedestrian crossings into the country.

I envision a system that flags people more often (but still randomly) when they are starting. After a period of time, and with no discrepancies the statistical likelihood of being flagged goes down.

The self serve check out lines are not quite the same thing. You still have to wait in line, and sometimes random people are slower than employee check out people. Instead of scanning items and loading them into bags in the aisles, you end up bagging things at the counter.

The big benefit would come from someone who is cooking dinner and realizes that he has run out of milk and butter. He could send someone from his family to the supermarket, and bring the smart phone to ease the checkout. Because the account is pre-arranged for money transfer, that person may grab a pie and a bottle of wine (depending on the state) on the way out of the store. Right now that person is intimidated by the check out lines at the supermarket, so instead they go to a convenience store, and buy just some overpriced butter and milk.
Tiltpoul
Tiltpoul
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November 22nd, 2011 at 6:40:48 PM permalink
Do you know why EVERY TIME you go to a store that offers a credit card you are asked if you want to put it on your store card? Yes, they make tons of money on it, but there's a LEGAL reason.

JCPenney's was the victim of a lawsuit where three people were waiting in line to be checked out. The first two people were asked if they wanted to open up a JCP card. The third person, of some other descent (I believe it was an Arabian) claimed not to be asked. The person sued (successfully) and all of a sudden, every major department retailer either asks EVERYBODY, or they don't ask ANYBODY. Any place or person that doesn't ask is often at risk of LOSING THEIR JOB!!! Seriously, when I worked for Sears, you could tell a person to buzz off, and that would get a slap on the hand. But if on a survey, someone said you didn't offer a charge card (whether you did or didn't), it was an automatic write-up, and three Nos in a 6-month (or year, I forget) time period got you fired. Associates on their second No would often throw surveys away for fear of getting a third No.

If there would be a possibility that someone could be discriminated against, even if it was truly random (which they never are), there would be a lawsuit. I'm not saying some stores won't eventually implement the idea (obviously some are), but I guarantee you they are not doing searches of customers and are hoping the honest ones and markups outweigh the not-so honest ones and shrink. They most likely would anyways.
"One out of every four people are [morons]"- Kyle, South Park
dm
dm
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November 22nd, 2011 at 7:01:16 PM permalink
Quote: pacomartin

Tell me what is wrong with this idea.

Stores (primarily supermarkets) start an application using Smart Phones. You sign up with a store and they give you a small allowance (say $50 to start with). You go through the store and pick up a few items, charging them to your account using a smart phone. The first time you get your account double checked at check out. Afterwards you are randomly spot checked to see if you are sneaking items out of the store. Obviously if there is a mistake with cat litter it is treated less seriously than one with ten pounds of choice steak. Eventually after a few times, you build up loyalty, and the allowance is increased. Probably some upper limit (say $300 is imposed) just to control the damage done by a customer who is leaving the area, and attempts to sneak out with a ton of expensive goods.

I see huge advantages with a system. It would foster extreme loyalty. Customers would no longer be adverse to stopping in a store to grab a few items since they would not have to wait in a check out line. They can attach a credit card so that they do not need to make a payment. They would be less likely to avoid the supermarket in favor of a convenience store since they won't have to wait in line. They might favor a local supermarket over a fast food chain because it is just as easy to purchase food.

The high end supermarkets are installing cafes and even pubs. In Nevada they have gambling rooms.

I can't see the downside to this system. I think if carefully done, shoplifting could be manageable. Most people trying to build a level of trust are not going to shoplift from their home store.

Why has no one tried to install a system for automated check out of small numbers of items?




I don't spend much time waiting to check out. It would not be useful to me. But, it would be very useful to some, and that is what they would have to worry about.
Nareed
Nareed
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November 22nd, 2011 at 7:13:25 PM permalink
Quote: pacomartin

In Mexico if you are passing some border check points you push a big button. A stoplight turns on either red or green. If you get a red, you are subject to a search.



The first time I saw it I nearly died laughing :) I still smile at the things. It's ludicrous.

Besides, these days at the airport they X-ray your luggage at customs. So even if you get a green light, it's possible they'll ask to see your bags if they saw, or thought they saw, something on the X-rays.

As to your shopping idea, it's been tried in some form before. I recall seeing a report in the mid-90s involving a scanner in your cart which kept track of your purchases, then you just paid with credit card on the way out. It's not quite what you're propposing, but it's similar.

As much as I'd appreciate less lines, I wouldn't care for your system. Among other things:

1) I don't have a "smart" phone nor am I likely to get one any time soon. So it doesn't apply to me.

2) If it did, though, i can see several problems. For one, if you change your mind and want to return an item, I imagine a pretty big deal, possibly negating any advantages. Also if no running total is kept, you may find yourself overspending easily.

3) Technical glitches are inevitable, and they will be a big problem.


That will do for starters.
Donald Trump is a fucking criminal
FleaStiff
FleaStiff
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November 22nd, 2011 at 7:18:16 PM permalink
Good Friday. New Zealand. Discount Grocery store's computer turned on the lights and unlocked the door because the computer had never been told its a major holiday there. Dozens of shoppers took advantage of the bargain prices, some were reported to have driven truckloads out. Some people actually simply used the automated checkout system ... but until one person rang up alcohol which required a manager's over-ride key, the computer never realized anything was wrong.

And now you want to throw in a trust-oriented checkout? No... the effort is on smart carts that total everything automatically before you get to the checkout whether it be with one item or a ton of them.
Doc
Doc
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November 22nd, 2011 at 8:38:27 PM permalink
Quote: Nareed

As to your shopping idea, it's been tried in some form before. I recall seeing a report in the mid-90s involving a scanner in your cart which kept track of your purchases, then you just paid with credit card on the way out. It's not quite what you're propposing, but it's similar.


May not be the same thing, but I recall a TV ad much like that. Was the one you saw the one where some kid tries to shoplift a bunch of stuff hidden in his clothes but the system hands him a bill/receipt on his way out? I think that was an IBM vision-of-the-future ad rather than something actually in practice. I think they implied use of RFID tags on all products in place of or in addition to UPC codes. The cost of the tags and the scanner range are still significant impediments to applying that technology in the grocery store.
NicksGamingStuff
NicksGamingStuff
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November 23rd, 2011 at 4:39:21 AM permalink
I do think most people are honest. I do see the issue of putting things back. Maybe with the RFID idea the carts could have a scanner built in with a screen showing your items and the total. When you want to leave you push your cart though a tunnel where you are "rang up". This would allow for the items that have been put back to not be rung up and for anyone who wants to steal, the wheels would lock immobilizing the cart. People who pay cash/food stamps would not be able to use this system. There could still be regular checkers for people who like to check out the items. One flaw would be for produce that is not prepackaged however.

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