Some of you might have heard of the self-scanning system in the Albert Heijn. Since 2006 the organisation of Albert Heijn has been focusing on a new innovative ways of shopping in supermarkets. Since the end of this year’s some shops in Utrecht, Eindhoven and Helmond have used this system and after a lot of adjustments to the method it is now being implemented to other smaller cities in the Netherlands.
As I knew some of you have heard about it but haven't seen it yet, I decided to go to the Albert Heijn in Kaatsheuvel. Here the system has been implemented a couple of weeks ago while the store got totally renovated.
I brought my camera and made some pictures of the system, I have also been able to talk to the supermarket's manager to discuss the efficiency and use of the system.
In general this is how the system works. When you enter the supermarket you bump into a wall full of scanners (see above). You have to put your own bonus-card in front of a big company-scanner which will activate one of the hand-scanners. This way the hand-scanner is linked to your account of Albert Heijn. (You can only use the system if you have a bonus card.)
Once you have your hand-scanner you can walk through the supermarket with both your trolley and hand-scanner to run your errands (see below). While you grab a product you scan it yourself and it will be added on a list which is shown on the hand-scanner (see photo). It is an easy to use system, you can add things easily and can erase products as well. (btw, don't worry about me harassing ladies in the Albert Heijn, she volunteered to be a model..)
Once you have scanned all the items you need, and placed them in your trolley, you can go to the final stand which contains again a company-scanner which is able to make a total list of your errands. Your discounts will be subtracted and you can pay by using a chip- or regular bankcard.(see below)
This system has a lot of advantages for the people who don't like to spend too much time on running their errands. Employees of the Albert Heijn will still be present near the scanner-walls to answer any of your questions, but as these questions are far less than the regular personal attention at a register, the amount of employees which are needed to help the customers have decreased immensely.
Also employees will check some of the trolleys on a sampling basis to make sure people stick to the system. Then again, the management board is aware that even though some people might forget to scan any of the items, or may steal them on purpose, this is an neglect able amount as it does not even come close to the regular costs for personnel at regular registers.
In general an interesting system which could be an incredible efficient system. The only problem that the supermarket experiences so far is that it takes a while to convince everybody (especially the elderly) to use the system. Therefore they are obliged to still use the same old-fashioned cash registers as well. Ah well, maybe it just needs some more time.. Actually I am quite a big fan of the system so far..