2020 Grocery Trends: Self-Scanning

2020 is right around the corner, and with a new year comes a treasure trove of opportunities to consider for grocers.

What are the industry trends that are hitting their stride in 2020?

Which should I put time, money, and energy into? 

Over the next few months, we’re going to be covering those 2020 trends – giving you the lowdown on what they are, where they came from, who is currently utilizing them in the industry, and the pros and cons.

Today’s trend is self-scanning. Different than the ubiquitous self checkouts, this trend gives handheld scanning devices to shoppers and allows them to scan as they move throughout your store, hypothetically simplifying the checkout process and taking cashiers out of the equation.


Where did self-scanning start?

Self-scanning is a product of the self checkout trend. Many mass retailers from Target to Kroger to Walmart have implemented self checkout, and smaller stores have followed suit because of their popularity.

70% of shoppers have used self-checkout, and self-scanning was simply the logical next iteration.

According to GPShopper, 48% of US internet users believe scan-and-go technology would make shopping easier, and 43% would rather try this trend than wait in a checkout line.

That kind of agreement among consumers was enough to make some major names in the grocery industry take note.


Which grocery stores have self-scanning capabilities?

Kroger implemented their Scan, Bag, Go system, which actually takes the self-scanning process one step further by allowing consumers to scan with their mobile phones. Less hardware = less overhead for a program like this. 

Meijer followed Kroger’s lead with an app called Shop & Scan that shoppers can download to scan their items as they wander through the aisles. At the end of their trip, they simply scan their app-generated barcode at the self-checkout kiosk.

Finally, Sam’s Club uses a similar service called Scan & Go to give their shoppers a self-scanning experience in their big box stores.


Pros and cons of self-scanning in grocery stores

The benefits of self-scanning are lauded by its proponents. At its best, self-scanning gives shoppers autonomy, and allows them to skip the long lines that many people complain about in grocery stores. The power is put in their hands – and they like it. This optimistic outlook also gives grocery store employees a chance to get beyond the cash wrap, and provides more time to actually assist shoppers with their needs instead of spending time scanning.

On the other hand, there are many people who don’t buy the utopian view of self-scanning. Some customers see it as just a glorified self-checkout, and make good points about it failing to live up to the autonomous checkout that we’ve been seeing in the Amazon Go store concepts. Other shoppers say that it disconnects them from grocery store employees, and removes that valuable person-to-person connection that makes grocery stores so community-driven.

If you’re thinking about bringing self-scanning to your stores, it’s important to take these considerations into account. Are your customers used to an interaction-heavy shopping trip, and would feel disdain toward a program that would take that away? Are they tech-savvy? Are they concerned with shopping at a store that has the latest technology, such as autonomous checkouts? Are they interested in getting in and out of your store as fast as possible, or are they looking for a more engaged experience? Answer these questions, and you’ll be able to determine if self-scanning is the right move for you and your business.


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