Fujitsus Smart Cart Differentiators

By Evan Schuman  |  Posted 2005-02-16 Print this article Print

Slack points to more practical advantages of Fujitsus design, such as their claim that their cart-handle-mounted unit (its literally bolted on) is small enough to allow for a child to sit in the traditional front-compartment, while some rival units are too large. The "just less than two-pound" unit with the 6.5-inch display is surrounded with a quarter-inch of hardened Mylar plastic making it almost indestructible, even by a curious child, Slack said. The units are also sealed with a polycarbonate cover.
Slack sees the fact that the cart would already have the unit bolted to its bar when the customer arrives as an advantage over smart-cart approaches where the customer has to pick up a pad at customer service or at the entrance and place it in the cart.
Another differentiator is that the Fujitsu version makes the customers use of a loyalty card optional. Without the loyalty card, the systems CRM capabilities—a big draw for retailers—are virtually nil. In an initial deployment, Slack said, requiring a loyalty card will turn off more privacy-suspicious, time-crunched customers than it will attract. Retail IT execs have a love/hate relationship with CRM. To read more, click here. With the U-Scan Shoppers approach, if the shopper chooses to remain anonymous, the cart will still display offers based on the customers location in the store. At best, then, the retailers data-collection would be aggregate, which is less useful than customer-specific CRM info but better than nothing. The part of the smart cart experience that causes greater difficulties for retailers is the checkout. Consumers can scan items as they select them with the smart cart scanner, which communicates their selections to the cash register at checkout. For fraud/security purposes, how does the store ensure that the customer is honestly scanning every item? Some stores use spot checks, subjecting randomly selected shoppers to time-consuming basket audits. Customers scanning their purchases into the U-Scan Shopper would have the option of simply going through the checkout aisle, with cashiers helping to bag the groceries while checking the items against the systems generated list of scanned items. But Fujitsu recommends an integration of the smart cart approach with a stores existing self-checkout system, leveraging the cashier typically assigned to oversee such areas, as well as the weight check systems. This method would be faster than simply using the self-checkout because the system would accept the smart carts list of what is in the cart. But for verification, it would do a single collective weigh, as opposed to the traditional self-checkout single-item weigh. Self-checkout systems are proving much more fraud-resistant than traditional cashier lanes. To read more, click here. Slack said that Fujitsu engineers have come up with a proprietary weighing algorithm that gets more accurate the larger the number of items in the bag being weighed. Thats the opposite of the normal variance approach, which holds that a range of weight deviations will exist for every product and—in theory—such variations would grow as the number of items grew. Slack said he couldnt explain how Fujitsu has overcome that issue. Next Page: How to deliver contextual ads seamlessly.

Evan Schuman is the editor of's Retail industry center. He has covered retail technology issues since 1988 for Ziff-Davis, CMP Media, IDG, Penton, Lebhar-Friedman, VNU, BusinessWeek, Business 2.0 and United Press International, among others. He can be reached by e-mail at

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