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One of the best ideas we’ve seen in retailing lately is just inside the front door at the Superquinn store in Swords, a suburb of Dublin.

It’s called SuperScan, and it proves that the future is now.

A customer entering the store who is a member of the Superquinn Super Club walks up to a kiosk just inside the entrance and runs her club card under the scanner. Moments later, a small handset on the wall lights up, and is removed by the customer. Then, walking the store, the customer uses the small handset to scan each item as she puts it in her shopping basket – or even into Superquinn Greenbags that are the cloth alternatives to paper and plastic. (In Ireland, a plastic bag costs the consumer money…so the company has successfully urged many of its shoppers to utilize the distinctive $1 reusable Greenbags.) If she changes her mind, she can de-scan the item.

Once the shopping trip is finished, the customer goes up to a special Pay & Go checkout, handing the hand scanner to an employee. Payment is made, a receipt is given, and the customer is out the door in a flash. Customer orders are randomly checked for accuracy; the fewer mistakes a customer makes, the less often she gets checked.

At this point, Superquinn estimates that some 14 percent of shoppers at the four stores where the system is being used are taking advantage of the system.
KC's View:
How do we love this system? Let us count the ways:

  • It is tied into the company’s loyalty marketing program, which means that it helps Superquinn track the activities of its best and regular shoppers with even greater accuracy. And by only allowing frequent shoppers to use the system, it is a definitive and discernable award to those shoppers.

  • It genuinely speeds up the shopping trip, especially the checkout process, which is always the worst part of shopping.

  • It really is easy to use. Even Luddites won’t be frightened off, we suspect.

  • In our opinion, this is even better than self-scanning systems at the front end for two reasons. First of all, it is even faster, because all the scanning is being done as the product is being put in the basket, which is happening anyway. And entire step is being cut out.

    And second, there is still a person at the front end to interact with every shopper, which means that the all-important human contact isn’t being eliminated from the supermarket shopping experience.

Seeing this system in action was worth the trip across the Atlantic. Of course, just being in Ireland is worth the trip…because this remains an island that speaks to our heart and soul and embraces us from the moment we get off the plane.

We’ll have more from Superquinn and elsewhere in coming days as we continue our “MNB On The Road” series.