- Kroger announced it's expanding its Scan, Bag, Go service from 25 stores to 400 locations in 2018, according to Biz Journals. The program allows consumers to scan items as they shop with a store-provided scanner or the Scan, Bag, Go smartphone app and then pay at a self-checkout station — reducing checkout time.
- The Cincinnati-based grocer tested the service in the Ohio city for five years, and expanded it to several Fry’s locations in Arizona. It remains unclear which of Kroger’s stores will be getting the Scan, Bag, Go technology.
- The growth of the program is part of Restock Kroger, an initiative that includes a combination of cost cutting and strategic investments in data, digital innovation, store updates and pricing. The grocer plans to invest 200% more next year in key areas such as digital, store and payment technology.
As competition increases in the grocery space, Kroger is looking for new ways to attract consumers and keep them coming back to their stores. Reducing long waits at checkout — arguably the biggest in-store headache for grocery shoppers — seems an ideal way to win consumer attention.
The move also makes Kroger, the largest operator of traditional supermarkets, a leader in cashier-free checkout options. Walmart and Amazon have been testing similar technology, but have yet to roll out their services on a large scale. Amazon's headline-grabbing Go store still hasn't made its public debut, and Walmart's version of the cashier-free store model is in development at its startup incubator, Store No. 8.
Kroger is smart to expand its service ahead of these competitors. As online grocery shopping becomes more popular, consumers have expressed frustration over the time spent waiting in line for a cashier. And though self-checkout has been marketed as a solution to this problem, some studies have found the method doesn't actually save consumers any time. Variations of scan-and-go technology could be the answer.
Currently, Kroger customers who use a scanner provided by the store, or an app on their phone, still have to visit a self-checkout register to pay for their order. Customers who utilize their smartphone to scan groceries will soon be able to cut out this last step and pay through the app.
Not all grocers are investing in scan-and-go tech, but just about every retailer is investing in new ways to speed up checkout lanes. Hy-Vee, which operates 240 stores throughout the Midwest, is currently piloting a system that uses colored lights to indicate how long lines are at each register. Whole Foods is experimenting with self-service kiosks in the prepared food department, allowing shoppers to order and pay for meals while skipping the checkout line.
Aldi stores in the U.K. are going old school, improving employee training to emphasize speed and modifying barcode placement on packaging so it’s easier to scan. The company says this makes its checkout lines 40% faster than competitors, but some customers have complained the experience is stressful.
Time will tell if scan-and-go technology will become the gold standard for grocery checkout, and which retailer will leverage the service best. Kroger may be a step ahead now, but its rivals aren't far behind.