Coles Myer has started a six-month trial of the U-Scan self-checkout system at Bi-Lo and Coles in Victoria.
U-Scan allows shoppers to easily scan, bag and pay for their purchases using touch screen menus and voice and text instructions. Payments are made using cash, EFTPOS or credit card. Cash withdrawals are also possible if an EFTPOS card is used.
Four self-scanning checkouts, overseen by supervisors, were placed in both Bi-Lo Fountain Gate and Coles Chadstone. Bi-Lo started its trial yesterday while Coles will be starting on Thursday. Coles Myer spokeswoman Claire McFarlane said feedback from customers have been good so far and most have been finding it to be "quick and easy."
According to McFarlane, cheating the system is very difficult as it is intelligent enough to "learn" about new product sizes, weights and other factors.
A weight detector in the machine gives out an alarm if the shopping bag is heavier than the total items scanned through the check out system.
The stations also have built-in video cameras to enable a central operator to oversee multiple checkouts and provide customer service or security support.
McFarlane said as of the moment, they cannot speculate on the outcome of the system or if it will reduce operating costs.
"We cannot speculate if this will be fully integrated soon since ultimately the customers will decide on whether they like the self-check out system or not," McFarlane said. She also assured that no jobs will be affected by the new system.
Fujitsu acquired the U-Scan self-checkout technology business for US$35 million last April from Canada's Optimal Robotics. Fujitsu plans to offer self-checkout solutions to grocery, convenience stores and mass merchandise retailers in Australia and New Zealand.
Marcus May, general manager retail at Fujitsu Australia said "We expect the expansion of self-checkout systems worldwide to be replicated in Australia, and believe every major supermarket chain in the country will offer at least four self-checkout facilities in many of their stores over the next couple of years."
According to US market research firm IHL Consulting Group, shipments of self-checkout systems is expected to grow by about 95 per cent in 2004, with the market exceeding US$1.3 billion in 2005.