Sunday has got to be the busiest day for grocery stores. I try not to go shopping on Sundays but yesterday I did and my Giant was jam packed. The parking lot and shopping cart corrals were overflowing. Inside, people buzzed this way and that, trying to navigate around one another to get ahold of the things they needed. If it wasn’t for Scan It! I’d have left.
I rarely grocery shop without Scan It! (I’m talking about the handheld scanners at the front of the store that you can use to scan groceries as you shop.) I’m spoiled now and find it too frustrating to go back to the old way of shopping where I wait in line, then take everything out of my cart and put it on a conveyor belt, then wait for the cashier and the bagger to do their part, and then push everything out to the parking lot and start that whole process of knotting bags so my stuff doesn’t spill out and roll around the car during the drive home.
Other people are catching on to the joys of using a handheld scanner. They bring their own bags to the store and fill them with groceries as they shop. They scan everything first, of course. I tell people about how great it is and urge them to use it but they seem to be afraid of two things: 1. the technology and 2. the idea someone may think they are stealing.
The technology is as simple as dialing up your daughter on a smart phone. The bigger obstacle is the “concealment” thing. Growing up we were warned to never take anything from a store and put it in our pocket or purse before paying. Now, we are being invited to put things in our bags — after scanning them — and then pay before leaving. But it just doesn’t feel right. Someone may think we slipped something into our bag without scanning it first! Or maybe we did put something into our bag and didn’t scan it, but accidentally.
A man asked me once, “How do they know you aren’t stealing?” And once when I was waiting my turn at the deli, I overheard a woman tell another woman “people use the scanners to steal.” That made me red hot. I wanted to tell her a thing or two, like “I don’t steal.”
One of the main reasons I designed and built the Scout Cart was so I could walk to the store and then shop with a handheld scanner. I made the Scout Cart baskets out of wire so there would be transparency and then people may feel more comfortable about the concealment thing.
I don’t worry anymore about what people may think or about accidentally putting something into my cart without scanning it. I keep a count. And the baskets make it easy to recount if I mess up or forget. Still, it would be nice to have a way to be absolutely sure that everything was scanned. I still feel a little nervous when I get audited (the checkout kiosk randomly calls for audits). What if I missed something? What if they pull me aside and accuse me of cheating?
The idea of it is enough to keep some people from ever bothering with Scan It! But if you can get past these concerns I highly recommend giving it a try. It makes shopping much faster and easier, and fragile produce fairs better.
Allison White is the founder of Scout Cart, a personal shopping cart designed for active lifestyles. Scout Cart has removable baskets and a folding frame so it can be used in a neighborhood where walking is convenient and easy or when a car is required. Loaded baskets and folded frame fit in most vehicles. The opinions in this blog are her own. Ms. White is not affiliated in any way with Giant grocery stores or Scan It!