Wincor Nixdorf High Speed Checkout with 360 Scanners.

360 Scanners Revolutionize Checkout With High-Speed Automatic Scanning

360 Scanner from Wincor NixdorfFor many people, grocery shopping is a dreaded chore. It means having to make a list, fight traffic, snag a parking spot, bump your way through a labyrinth of aisles, shoppers, and shopping carts and sort through thousands of products, brands, and prices in order to collect your necessities and hopefully stay within your budget. By the time you are ready to check out and pay, having to choose between a long line of overflowing carts and a persnickety old self-checkout machine might be enough to make you cry.

Here at The BarCode News, we are always on the lookout for new technology that will improve the shopping experience for customers, and increase efficiency for business owners. Once in a while, something comes along that seems revolutionary. 360 scanners for checkout lines indeed fits that category.

Imagine, instead of a cashier having to handle every item in your cart, or you having to play spin the bottle with your ketchup at the self-checkout, you simply place your items on a conveyor belt where they are automatically scanned by the time they get to the bagging station. This is possible with 360 scanners.

As the name denotes, 360 scanners are capable of scanning a product bar code from 360 degrees, so it does not matter how the item is placed on the conveyor belt. The machines perform automatic scanning on multiple bar codes at a time, processing items at a speed twice as fast as traditional scanners (up to 60 items per minute), with 98 percent accuracy. If an faulty bar code cannot be scanned or an item requires age-verification, then the 360 scanner snaps a picture of the item and displays it to the checkout attendant for quick resolution.

Both Wincor Nixdorf Inc. and Fujitsu have introduced 360 scanners for use in grocery and high-volume retail environments.360 Scanner from Wincor Nixdorf

Wincor Nixdorf developed the 360 Scan portal as part of their advanced Automated Checkout Suite, with the partnership ofDatalogic Scanning andRoyston LLC. Wincor’s 360 Scan portal is built with the new 360-degree automatic scanning technology, to speed up checkout lines, improve the customer experience as well as increase operational efficiency.

The software is flexible so that the 360 Scan Portal can be used either as a self-checkout or with an attendant during high-traffic hours. Since the attendant does not have to scan the items, he or she can simply bag up the groceries so that the customer is ready to pay and go by the time the cart is unloaded. The system is so efficient that it can allow one attendant to serve two lines at a time. It is also customizable for different retail environments and multiple payment methods.

Fujitsu also introduced a 360 scanner at last year’s NRF. Fujitsu’s 360 scanner also boasts 98+% scanning accuracy and the ability to manage faulty bar codes and restricted items with ease.

The Advantage Checkout 360 scanner enhances the customer checkout experience and potentially reduces the number of checkout lanes, allowing staff to move to other valuable activities. The checkout system’s Metrologic scanner/scale functions with six-sided, 360° scanning and integrated electronic article surveillance (EAS).

Watch this video from Wincor to see how the 360 scanner works:

www.wincor-nixdorf.com/usa.

http://solutions.us.fujitsu.com

(Images courtesy of Wincor Nixdorf Inc.)

Tech Drives Growth in Grocery E-tailing

Supply-chain tech helps to reduce cost & inventory and predict user behaviour

Everyday, I learn something new,” says R Rammurthy as he picks up a netbook, an Android tablet and a paper-clip file before climbing onto the driver’s seat of a white Maruti van loaded with four neatly packed baskets of grocery and vegetables. As he slips into first gear, he pointed to the netbook screen which displayed a map where the vehicle’s number flashed. The on-screen status of the vehicle changed from idle to moving and the address to which the baskets needs to be delivered popped up.

Rammurthy’s trip ended nearly twenty minutes later at the doorsteps of a customer– mother of a three-year-old who hates to spend the little spare time she gets during weekends at the supermarket. During the drive, the 28-year-old management graduate, who now handles a small team for online retailer Bigbasket.com, started explaining how his company manages to keep near-zero inventory and fulfils hundreds of orders everyday.

Online food and grocery retailing, fairly mature in the West and showing lot of potential in growth markets like China, has not been able to capture the fancy of Indian shoppers yet. Things, however, may be changing as a new generation of wellfunded online firms — Bigbasket.com is a key example — are using simple end-to-end technology solutions to offer deep discounts on grocery items, predict customer behaviour and keep a tight leash on expenses. With technology playing a key role, they are trying to make a dent in the estimated $343-billon food and grocery market in India.

For example, these firms use a supplychain technology that allow customers to place orders through multiple channels and later predict what a customer is likely to order. Combined with applications that track everything from the time an order is placed to delivery and devices that help during procurement, technology is helping these firms to make a compelling and convenient offer to the tech-savvy shopper. For these online retailers, the most important tech application is the ability to predict customer behaviour which lets them reduce inventory and thereby, cut costs. For instance, while a traditional retailer might have to stock his monthly offtake of atta at least three weeks in advance, an online retailer ends up stocking it for less than two days. “That is mostly analytics,” says Ambuj Jhunjhunwala, the founder of Mygrahak.com which sells food and grocery online in Delhi. Predicting customer needs helps them to plan in advance and procure based on needs. Need-based procurement works ideally well with perishable goods like food not to talk about saving expenses on storage space, which is a large part of expenditure for a traditional retailer.
Analytics also involves knowing the customer better which helps retailers to make tailor-made offers for customers and increase sales. Online retailers can also eliminate a large part of their frontline staff because customers usually help themselves. Typically, large format brickand-mortar stores spend much of their attention to figure out customer behaviour on the shopping floor and arrange goods so that they catch customer attention. This can now be automated as the platform generates enough data about individual preferences. “You have complete control over knowing what your customer is buying and great level of predictability. The stickiness of forecasting can go up as you use technology to predict,” says Anand Ramanathan, Associate Director at KPMG.

Shoppers, whose experience of buying grocery online has been good, tend to very loyal. For example, Asha Liju, a clinical research professional from Bangalore buys her grocery online. “This is the second time I’m buying online because its simple and saves me nearly 10 kilometres of travel,” she says.
Here again, technology plays a key role. Grocery buying is mostly a repetitive task something technology is known to do well. For instance, when a shopper logs into the account, a history of previously bought items makes it easier to pick instead of going through the motion all over again. “At each step, simple technology is helping us save time and money,” says Abhinay Choudhary, co-founder of Bigbasket.com. Bigbasket.com, which now has 100 people on its rolls, will supply anything from milk products to fresh fruits among 7,000 other items at your doorstep at competitive prices within a few hours of placing an e-order. “Our delivery vans even have cold storage facilities. This is very new but if we do it right, it will be big,” says Choudhary. His earlier venture was shopasyoulike, a similar food and grocery store catering to residents in Whitefield, Bangalore.

25-year-old Jhunjhunwala’s Mygrahak.com now claims that they process nearly 15,000 orders a month. “The average order size is Rs 1,250- Rs 1,300 . We can at least grow 30 times in Delhi alone,” he said. He recently introduced “card on delivery,” where a customer can swipe their cards at the time of delivery to pay for the order. Jhunjhunwala comes from a family of entrepreneurs and returned to India after graduation learning how to do business from his family, the promoters of BSE listed REI Agro.Chennaionlinegrocery.com, Town Essentials and Atmydoorsteps.com also operate in this space. Scale might not be an issue as demand from a large working population, which finds frequenting supermarkets an irritant, grows.
Investors also seem to be buying into the grocery e-tailing story. Last month, private equity firm Ascent Capital invested $10 million when Bigbasket.com co-founded by a team of eight which includes Fab-Mall co-founders Hari Menon, VS Sudhakar, Vipul Parekh, VS Ramesh and Abhinay Choudhary, raised its first round of institutional funding.

The food and grocery market accounts for over two thirds of the $505 billion Indian retail market. According to retail consultancy Technopak, the retail market is projected to touch $725 billion by 2017. The organised food and grocery retail market in India is estimated at $ 12 billion in 2012 and grow at a compounded rate of 30% over next the five years. “Though e-tailing is still a very small part of retail in India it is projected to grow at a fast pace and over the next decade its presence will be significant,” said Pragya Singh, Principal Consultant, Retail & Consumer Products, Technopak. Headroom for growth comes from the fact that that e-tailing accounts for a measly. 2% or $1 billion of the overall retail market and it is expected to reach $13 billion by 2017.
But retailing food and grocery online is not an easy task. Though there are success stories, the monumental failure of Webvan in the United States back in 2000 is enough to act as a damperner.

The challenges include being able to give consumers a large number of products to choose from, achieving consistency in quality especially when it comes to perishable goods and the cost of logistics. For instance, Mygrahak’s Jhunjhunwala has already invested $1 milllon in the firm and anticipates an expense of $4 million to $5 million every time it moves to a new city. While critics often cite the example of Webvan, the story may not repeat in India. Webvan may not be the best benchmark, argues Singh. “It is an example of a company that grew too fast in middle of the dotcom boom, rapid expansion to multiple cities, gigantic infrastructure including warehouses but not enough sales to back the same,” she said.

Even as its spends Rs 150- Rs 400 to acquire each customer, Mygrahak.com will break even this Diwali, claims Jhunjunwala. Despite the rosy numbers, e-tailers looking to sell food and grocery might have to expand cautiously, suggests Technopak’s Singh.
The Challenges 

* Achieving standardisation in quality and quantity when a large part of grocery items are still sold loose in India

* Having a comprehensive product range that covers all possible variations

* Delivery across large parts of urban and semi-urban areas

* Sensory needs of consumers are not satisfied through online channels
Fulfilment and logistics costs

Pick n Pay ups shareholding in TM Supermarkets

Johannesburg, Dec 9 (I-Net Bridge) – In a deal that will pump US$13 million into the Zimbabwean economy, SA’s second-largest grocer Pick n Pay (PIK) on Friday said the final government hurdle had been cleared for it to up its holdings in TM Supermarkets from 25% to 49%.

The TM Chain is controlled by Meikles Limited and is the largest chain of retail stores in Zimbabwe by number of stores, with 51 outlets.

“Yesterday the shareholders of TM Supermarkets voted unanimously to allow Pick n Pay to purchase the additional 24% of shares,” Pick n Pay said.

In November, the Competition and Tariff Commission of Zimbabwe declared that it had examined the competitive effects of the merger on the Zimbabwean market and established that the transaction did not reduce competition or create a monopoly situation, but rather strengthened the ailing TM Supermarkets.

The commission then agreed to Pick n Pay taking its shareholding of TM Supermarkets to 49% subject to certain conditions pertaining to labour and local procurement of goods.

“The acquisition of the additional shareholding in TM Stores has been a protracted one that has stretched over more than three years, and required the approval of the Zimbabwean Investment Authority, the Zimbabwean Reserve Bank, the Zimbabwean National Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Board, and now finally the approval of the Competition and Tariff Commission of Zimbabwe,” Nick Badminton, Chief Executive Officer of Pick n Pay said.

Dallas Langman, head of group enterprises (Africa) at Pick n Pay said it was important to note that not a cent of the money coming into the TM Stores business would go towards shareholder dividends.

“All the money is earmarked for developing and strengthening TM stores in Zimbabwe. Some seven stores will be rebranded with the Pick n Pay brand, but we wish to express our confidence in the TM brand and respect its history in Zimbabwe,” he stressed.

“The investment will see money being spent on local procurement processes and will give employment to Zimbabweans during the refurbishment of stores and the staffing of them,” Langman added.

Costco readies first Australian outlets

Costco Wholesale, the largest US warehouse club, expects to lower Australian grocery prices with its first outlet in the country, providing new competition to Woolworths and Coles.

Costco, which will charge as much $60 in annual membership fees to Australian customers, will open its Melbourne outlet Aug. 17 with a 14,000 square meter (151,000 square feet) store, almost three times the size of typical supermarkets.

”We operate with low margins and with our membership fees, we can sustain low margins,” Australian Managing Director Patrick Noone said in an interview. ”Lower prices are important because people shop with us to get value.”

The Melbourne outlet, located in Docklands on the fringe of the central business district, will be followed by a store in Sydney’s western suburbs before Costco looks at more openings in the nation of almost 22 million. The Washington-based retailer enters a market where Woolworths and Wesfarmers’ Coles unit control almost three-quarters of retail grocery sales.

”We’ll have to see a competitive response from Coles and
Woolworths,” said Saxon Nicholls, at Herschel Asset Management in Melbourne. ”The Australian retailers already have substantial scale in the market and it will depend on Costco getting its own scale in Australia.”

Fundamental difference

Costco’s impact on rivals may extend beyond any market share it wins, with the company’s practice of pricing goods as much as 15 per cent below rivals likely to influence perceptions of value, according to analysts at Macquarie Group.

”Membership fees allow Costco to operate at low margins and are a fundamental difference in the business model,” Macquarie said in a July 7 note to clients. ”All other retailers of like products could be forced to price within these bounds depending on consumer response to Costco.”

Noone, an Australian who has worked for Costco for two decades, said the size of the Australian network will depend on the success of the first two outlets, with the company typically targeting a ratio of one store per 500,000 people.

”It all depends on how well we do what we say we are going to in Australia,” Noone said. ”When I was in Canada we started building warehouses to that ratio but when I left our brand name was such that we could build to 200,000 or 300,000 people and have a successful store.”

Vegemite, not peanut butter

The Australian outlets will carry about 3,800 product lines, compared with 27,000 in some Coles outlets, with some variation for local tastes. Instead of bulk packages of peanut butter popular in the US, Costco may stock items such as large sizes of Vegemite.

While both Coles and Woolworths trial hardwood floors, redesigned fresh produce sections and new shelving in their supermarkets, Costco maintains its warehouse design with concrete floors, exposed light fittings and inventory stacked on wooden pallets.

The Australian unit has no plans to sell coffins, as some of its US outlets do, although Noone expects the product range to evolve as Costco gains acceptance from consumers.

”If we can get good volume we will stock it and sell it,” Noone said. ”We look at areas we can show great value and that is why we sell diamonds and liquor and candy and all the other things.”

A winning recipe for growth in food retail?

Planet Retail’s Robert Gregory outlines the trends dominating the global grocery market

The global economic downturn has had a significant impact on the retail sector – albeit to a lesser extent on the grocers, due to the fact that food remains a non-discretionary purchase.

Nonetheless, grocery retailers have primarily responded to the downturn in two ways:

  1. Promoting value through the expansion of discount stores, economy ranges, price investments and increased promotions.
  2. Reducing costs and preserving cash by slowing growth plans and making staff redundant.

Over the next five years, Planet Retail forecasts the Top 30 to grow sales through grocery formats at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.2 per cent, compared with the 10.8 per cent recorded for the previous five years.

Store numbers, meanwhile, are expected to rise at a CAGR of 3.5 per cent, reflecting the fact that a slowdown in expansion will see retailers focusing on their most profitable existing stores.

Discount and small formats to the fore

One of the winning formats for the Top 30 will be the discount channel, which is expected to add $71bn in sales over the next five years. Driven by retailers such as Aldi and Schwarz Group, the no-frills format continues to attract cash-strapped consumers both in developed and emerging markets. By 2013, the Top 30 retailers operating in the discount segment are poised to open an additional 12,600 stores.

Discount stores are just one of the smaller store formats doing well. Retailers are increasingly likely to focus their efforts on small-box stores, given that they require less capital both to build and operate. In fact, stores less than 26,910 sq ft are poised to grow their store network by 4.1 per cent over the next five years compared with just 2.2 per cent for the large hypermarkets.

Also, in the long run, the outlook is positive for proximity retailing as demographic changes mean that there will be more single households combined with lower incomes (because of a higher share of pensioners) and less widespread car ownership.

This is especially the case in the US, where Tesco’s entry has sparked a series of reactive pilots, the most notable being Wal-Mart’s Marketside format, the retailer’s first new concept in the US in a decade. It is too early to say whether small-box will change the face of grocery retailing in the US, as this type of format caters to a very different shopping mode (high frequency/low spend), assortment (greater emphasis on fresh, private labels) and consequently calls for more frequent distribution.

As well as requiring relatively high investment, hypermarkets and superstores, despite being the backbone of many retailers’ strategies, are faced with a lack of available sites, increasingly prohibitive regulations, and a high degree of retail maturity in developed markets such as Western Europe and North America.

However, in the future, the channel will find more fertile grounds for growth in the developing markets of Asia and Latin America. Retail giants such as Auchan, Tesco, Carrefour and Wal-Mart still want to expand their hypermarket presence in markets such as China.

That said, the fact that such retailers are experimenting with smaller formats in these regions (eg, Tesco Express and Wal-Mart’s Smart Choice) suggests they are already planning for the increasing saturation in the large store sector in the emerging markets.

Indeed, internationalisation will continue to be a key trend, with the world’s largest grocers continuing (and in some cases increasing) their investment and commitment overseas. For many, such as Tesco and Carrefour, reducing their reliance on saturated home markets is part of a long-term strategy that will involve them looking beyond the present economic climate to years, if not decades, ahead.

With this in mind, markets such as India – where market entry by the world’s largest retailers is imminent – and Vietnam assume an even greater importance.

Multichannel, single-brand

Another key trend is the move towards multichannel/single brand. Carrefour’s conversion of its French store base to trade under the eponymous Carrefour name should help to strengthen the brand and create buying synergies across its supply chain and via its marketing campaigns. The retailer’s recent announcement that it is to replace its existing No. 1 economy private-label range with the new Carrefour Discount brand is all part of this approach. It is likely that future conversions will occur – particularly in Europe, where operating multiple formats is commonplace.

Private labels set for renewed focus

Against a background of tightening consumer spending, private labels are set for strong growth in almost all markets and for virtually all retailers.

Like discounters, the growth of private labels is nothing new. However, as economies weaken and consumer confidence dips, we are seeing accelerated growth in this arena. The trend is not just confined to the more mature markets either. While private label penetration is presently lower in emerging markets such as India, Brazil and Mexico, these countries are poised for the fastest growth in the coming years.

Also worth highlighting is the sophisticated positioning of own-label products emerging from some retailers, much to the dismay of many brand manufacturers. Retailers are cherry-picking consumers at both ends of the market by developing their economy ranges as well as premium lines.

One such example of a shift in strategy is Tesco’s new Discounter brand. Representing a shift away from the traditional three-tier strategy, Tesco is launching its first labels without the Tesco brand in order to fight German discounters Aldi and Lidl.

The growth of private labels represents a huge threat to the brands that have to compete, not just in terms of price but also for less shelf and promotional space.

With this in mind, Wal-Mart’s recently revamped, expanded and relaunched Great Value private label offering is sure to send a shiver down the backs of both major food and drink manufacturers and competing retailers in the US. With price differentials of up to 20 per cent over national brands and with a stylish new look, this might be the most significant makeover in the US retail sector in recent years, with significant long term impacts.

Is price here to stay?

The big question is what will the retail landscape look like when economic conditions improve? Certainly, some trends such as internationalisation will remain as important as ever as retailers are looking at the long-term picture in such cases.

But, what of the current popularity of discounters and private labels? In both cases, evidence suggests they will continue to grow – albeit at much lower levels than what we are seeing at present.

The past two decades have seen ongoing growth of discounting and private labels globally, even when economic conditions have improved. With many consumers stepping foot inside a discount store or switching from a brand to a cheaper private label for the first time, such recently formed shopping habits may prove to be difficult to break.

Robert Gregory is retail analyst at Planet Retail.

Waitrose scraps delivery charges.

The upmarket supermarket chain is abolishing the charges, which total £3 between Monday and Wednesday and £5 for the remainder of the week, as it tries to accelerate online growth that is currently running at 60pc.

“We want to ramp up the volumes,” said Mark Price, managing director of Waitrose. “Delivery charges are a real irritation for customers when they’re spending £90 on a shop.”

Britain’s worst recession in more than two decades has heaped pressure on supermarket chains to pitch their pricing strategies correctly as customers tighten their belts.

Waitrose, with 200 branches across the UK, has benefited as people eat out less, according to Mr Price. The chain, which recorded a 6pc jump in sales over Easter compared with last year, said it was winning customers from rivals such as J Sainsbury.

Owned by The John Lewis Partnership, Waitrose is betting that its move will help prise shoppers away from rivals in the online grocery market, which it claims will enjoy sales of £13bn within four years.

The charges will cease from Wednesday although the Waitrose Deliver service will still require a minimum order of £50. Waitrose Entertaining, its service for party food and drink, does not have a minimum order requirement.

The decision to scrap the charges comes in the same week that shoppers at online delivery service Ocado will be able to buy Waitrose food cheaper online than from the supermarket for the first time.

John Lewis Partnership has a stake in Ocado but does not fully own it, so the internet delivery company is able to charge what it likes for Waitrose products.

Mr Price has said there are many promotions that Waitrose runs in store that Ocado does not offer. The free delivery is not being offered by Ocado.

Mr Price said trading in the first three months had been better than expected and he was in the optimists camp regarding the rest of 2009.

US switching off online grocery shopping

Many of the trends we see in the UK market first take place in the US and then jump across the pond, but in the case of grocery home deliveries there is a major divergence between the two markets.

While online grocery shopping continues to grow at a rapid pace in the UK, it appears to be a different story across the Atlantic. In the past week the competitive UK market has digested the news that Waitrose is scrapping its delivery charges and Ocado is to sell 4,000 Waitrose own-label products at a cheaper price than is available in the grocer’s own stores.

The former is bound to have repercussions, as the other major grocers take a close look at their delivery-charging models, and although the latter will have less impact on the wider market it does signify how desperate Ocado is to grow its share of business.

In contrast, in the US, Albertsons announced that it is to stop its home delivery for online orders in all its markets. The only thing it is retaining in certain areas is online ordering for collection in-store, which it says customers regard as a convenient way to shop.

The divergence in the two markets must largely be down to the high density of delivery drops achievable in the UK whereas the vast distances between shoppers in the US does not justify the cost to retailers of offering home delivery services for low margin grocery products. This is undoubtedly why it is still viable in higher density conurbations like New York where FreshDirect is a popular service.

This is at the heart of why Tesco is the world’s biggest online grocer and the significantly larger US market has nothing that comes close to comparing with it.

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