Checking out "Scan, Bag and Go" from Kroger

Given the overwhelming interest in the Amazon GO concept there has been a lot of innovation on enabling the consumer to “own” the checkout experience.  The Kroger Corporation recently announced that they are piloting technology in their stores to enable self check out as consumers shop.  ‘Scan, Bag, Go” is the name of the new experience.  I’m lucky to live by such a pilot location (Ray Road store in Ahwatukee, Phoenix) so I collected some “primary research”.  My goal was to buy a few top up items to get our family supplies to the weekend.

There are two different ways the consumer can engage the process- one is based on the Frys (Kroger) app on their own smartphone, or the second which is to use one of their provided scanning devices.  Given I am betting 80% of store customers don’t have the Kroger app I tried the process using the scanning device.  The device itself is pretty light weight. It has a typical number pad for manual entry and a bar code reader.  The simple LED screen gives you feedback on what has been scanned.  My mission included produce- cantaloupe presented a challenge.  I had to select multiple melons before I found one that was both ripe AND had a sticker.  The second item in produce was sold out (cucumbers) so the produce worker advised me to substitute English cucumbers for the same price.  When I asked how to do that with the simple device he advised me to scan the barcode on the Cucumber price tag (TIP for next time before I feel up all the melons!). 

The rest of my items were pretty standard with packaging that had easy to read barcodes.  When I was complete on putting all the items (about a dozen) in my cart I was instructed to use the “self checkout” lanes with the kiosk setup.  The Simple device then sends my “basket” to the kiosk (over wifi network) and the kiosk then showed me the total.  I was then able to select the payment tender type and use the typical pin pad to submit my payment credentials.  So – even though I rang up as I shopped I still had to go through the self check lane to pay and exit the store (and bag my items as I forgot to bring bags). 

Overall Summary- Kroger is innovating and has designed this experience to be smoother by using their app on the consumer smartphone.  They do have an option for those of us without the app- but albeit not a very “Seamless” experience (YET).  I’m glad they are experimenting and I’m sure the experience will evolve and get better over time.  If only more retailers could make a similar investment in up-leveling the consumer experience!  I think those that already have the app will see this as yet another great reason to have the app- but again adoption rates for the app are still fairly low (likely < 20% of all Fry’s shoppers).

For more on this topic checkout the article by Mobile Payments Conference at: