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:

(Images courtesy of Wincor Nixdorf Inc.)


The Rise in Retail Theft

When the economy improves – and no matter how stagnant the recovery has been, 2010 was a better year than 2009 – you’d expect shoplifting incidents to decrease. The better off people are, the less incentive they have to steal.

According to a new report from the National Retail Federation (NRF), however, “shrinkage”  – the industry term for inventory loss due to shoplifting, employee theft, paperwork errors and supplier fraud – actually rose in 2010, to 1.58% of all retail sales, from 1.44% of all sales in 2009. In dollar terms, shrinkage cost U.S. retailers $37.1 billion in 2010, versus $33.5 billion in 2009, a 10.7% jump.

Consumers bear the brunt of this cost. “We need to be concerned,” says Richard Hollinger, a University of Florida criminologist who conducted the NRF-sponsored study. “We all pay for it. This theft amounts to an involuntary tax to compensate retailers for crimes that take place in their stores.”

So what’s causing the surge in stealing? First off, America still has a chronic unemployment problem, and as benefits run dry, people get more desperate. But Hollinger attributes a chunk of the worsening problem to more organized retail crime rings. “Shoplifting used to be an individual thing,” says Hollinger. “Now, groups are stealing in large quantities, and it’s a global enterprise.” According to another NRF survey, 94.5% of the 129 retail companies questioned say they have been victimized by organized retail crime over the past 12 months, the most in the survey’s seven-year history. Technology makes the trade more lucrative: criminals can lift items and easily move them on auction sites like EBay.

Law enforcement is keying in on the issue.  In Phoenix, for example, 36 people were arrested in February for their alleged participation in a retail crime operation. The name of the police effort: Operation Orange Crush.

America’s stores need more of these stings.

Sears Aims to Boost Sales With Christmas Shopping in July

Is it too early to start thinking about Christmas shopping?
Apparently, Sears doesn’t think so.

The retailer and its corporate partners, including KMart, have launched special holiday sections called “Christmas Lane” on their Web sites — sure to become a big hit with those early bird holiday shoppers who start to panic when Labor Day rolls around.

The company also has opened Christmas boutiques at hundreds of its stores, reports , a business move that aims to court holiday customers earlier than ever and get them to take advantage of the company’s layaway offers.

The year-end holidays typically represent a giant chunk — as much as half — of retailers’ annual revenues, and every year, the start of the holiday shopping season seems to creep earlier and earlier.

Retailers suffered through a particularly weak season last year as the United States suffered through the recession. The National Retail Federation reported a dismal 2.8 percent drop in the 2008 holiday season compared to the same period a year earlier.

It remains to be seen whether the concept of Christmas shopping in July will persuade skittish consumers to open their wallets.

But even if they do decide to commit $199 to buying the GE “Energy Smart” spruce tree from, they may be disappointed to find that particular product won’t be available until September.


Retailers say Obama stimulus plan not enough

CHICAGO (Reuters) – The largest U.S. retail trade group said current economic stimulus legislation might not do enough to spur consumer spending and repeated its call for a series of temporary sales tax holidays.

The National Retail Federation is “extremely concerned that it does not do enough to immediately stimulate consumer spending or to preserve the tens of millions of jobs that consumer spending supports,” Steve Pfister, the group’s senior vice president, said in a statement on Thursday.

“With consumer spending representing two-thirds of GDP, it is difficult if not impossible to foresee an improvement to overall economic growth until consumers regain confidence and resume spending,” he said in comments that were also sent in a letter to U.S. senators.

The Senate is working to craft legislation for a roughly $800 billion plan promoted by President Barack Obama to stimulate the U.S. economy, which has been in a recession since 2007. Continue reading

Pick n Pay boss is International Retailer of the Year

Nick Badminton, CEO of South Africa’s Pick ‘n Pay Stores, has been honoured with an international accolade for excellence in retail by the retail industry umbrella group, the National Retail Federation (NRF).

Badminton is set to receive the International Retailer of the Year Award, at a special ceremony to be held during the NRF’s Annual Convention taking place in New York, USA this week. The Award is given annually to an individual who has achieved international recognition for excellence in their native country.

The National Retail Federation is the world’s largest retail trade association, representing more than 100 American and international retail associations. Continue reading

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