Check it out

In what can only be viewed as a mixed blessing, NCR has announced a trial of self-serve checkout technology for the supermarket. This may be the last thing that major corporations ask the consumer to do in the name of "convenience" (read lower operating costs), although there are rumors that in the future we will be asked to stock shelves and sweep up before we leave with our groceries.

Seriously, shoppers can now scan, bag and pay for groceries in express lanes, all without cashier assistance. The process is as fast and easy as using a bank machine, according to NCR, the people who invented the good old cash register.

Balls Food Stores, a U.S. food chain, has installed NCR’s Self-Checkout Express in a Kansas City area grocery store. Testing has shown that a consumer can scan, bag and pay for five items or less in just 40 seconds. Research indicates that 65 per cent of consumer transactions are for 20 items or less. And, unlike the usual express lane, self-checkout is always open. A touch screen leads shoppers through the checkout process, prompting them to scan items, and complete the checkout by using a debit or credit card, or cash. If extra cash is needed, shoers can make instant cash withdrawals right at the ABM. NCR hasn’t said whether shoppers will be able to grab the microphone and call out "price check on number 4" just for fun.