Today I’ll like to talk about a relatively new phenomenon I noticed in my neighbourhood Sainsburys. It’s called SmartShop.
What is Smart Shop? Smart Shop is a system a shopper can use an in-store handset to scan items as he/she picks them from the shelves. Then at the end of the shopping, he/she goes to a special SmartShop checkout section to load all items scanned into the checkout machine and pay. There’s even a SmartShop app available on Google Play and on the App Store which one can use according to Sainsbury’s website.
Here’s how I first became aware of it. About a month ago, I noticed a sign close to the entrance that said Smart Shop. I was a little curious about it. So, that day when checking out at the till, I asked a cashier about it. He said it was a system where one could buy items without having to come to the cashier till. I found that interesting, but I didn’t pursue the idea further. A few weeks later while walking down the shopping isle to pick up a few groceries, I heard a beep a few meters away. The peculiar thing about this beep was that it was the same beep one would normally hear from the checkout machines at the till. But this beep emanated from somewhere in the isle! So I looked at where the beep was coming from and saw that a someone had just scanned a grocery item. The person had a shopping cart and looked quite pleased with himself. It then occurred to me that shoppers could actually scan their items as they shop and that this must be the smart shop concept I had asked about earlier. So, after checking out, I went to the stand where the handsets were and started looking around for some instruction on how to use it. A friendly staff found me and helped me register.
Now to my experience of actually using SmartShop. I attempted buying groceries via SmartShop and have a few observations.
- You can put items in your grocery bags as soon as you scan them
No need to take groceries out of shopping cart into the line at the checkout counter
- No need to load groceries back into your shopping bags after paying at the checkout counter
- You can see the total cost of your groceries on the SmartShop handset as you shop. This can help you manage costs
- No need to join queues at the checkout counter
- If you are buying items that don’t have barcode scanners on them, e.g. loose tomatoes and onions, you need to first weigh them yourself on a scale to print out barcode tags, then place the tag on the item
- You need to be make sure you remember to scan each item before placing it in your cart
- You need to make sure when you scan an item, the item is registered and quantity updated correctly on the handset. There was a time I had to scan an item twice to get it to work, probably due to network failure.
Overall, SmartShop is a very good idea if you have just a few items to buy. If you have a lot of groceries to buy, you may want to go the traditional route of using the checkout counter to minimise chances of forgetting to scan items. Also, SmartShop is a good idea if the items you buy have barcodes on them already. If you buy lots of items without barcodes, be ready to weigh and print out barcodes yourself.