Checking Out with Bluetooth
Fujitsu integrates Metrologic Bluetooth scanning technology with its U-Scan Genesis self-checkout system.To ease the processing of large and bulky items via self-checkout, Fujitsu Transaction Solutions is combining Metrologic VoyagerBT Bluetooth-enabled handheld scanning technology with its U-Scan Genesis line of self-checkout devices. Fujitsu announced the integration May 2 at the FMI Show with Marketechnics in Las Vegas.
"Items that are too heavy or large for the customer to pick up, or too big for a scale, are a big issue in self-checkout," said Paul Burel, self-checkout strategic marketing director for Fujitsu. "You have large packs of paper towels or toilet paper, 50-pound bags of dog food, general merchandise and home improvement items. There is a lot of opportunity."
Burel said that in most cases, when a customer has an item that is too big for a stationary scanner, an employee has to perform an intervention to get the price scanned. He said some retailers have deployed both corded and cordless scanning guns at their self-checkout terminals, but cords can damage the bioptic scales that read prices and customers are often "apprehensive" about cordless guns. "Because it runs on Bluetooth, the Metrologic scanner can be maneuvered all around the shopping cart," Burel said. "And it has a simple user interface. All the customer has to do is press a button and get full instructions how to use it. If they scan and get it wrong, they press a second button and try again. After two tries, a cashier is alerted to help them." He said the Bluetooth scanners are relatively inexpensive-about $200 to $350 each-and eliminate the need to deploy an expensive backup scanner for an intervention station that may cost $600 or more. In addition, he said by eliminating interventions, the Bluetooth scanners shorten the overall time it takes to complete self-checkout transactions. "The savings [from shortened transactions] can be a huge number or a small number," he said. "Our consulting service helps retailers determine if Bluetooth scanners make sense for them." Greg Buzek, founder and president of research and advisory firm IHL Consulting Group, said the Bluetooth scanners may offer retailers both risk and opportunity. "Anything that reduces interventions, I'm a big fan of," Buzek said. "As long as the customer is able to do it and the scanners won't walk away, I'm in favor of the idea." He cautioned that he saw the two biggest potential risks as having a scanner either hooked up to the wrong terminal or becoming lost or stolen. According to Burel, each scanner is paired up with a specific scan station, and the lack of a major problem associated with previously released mobile POS scanners being lost or stolen from stores suggests the Bluetooth scanners are not a significant loss risk. Dan Berthiaume covers the retail space for eWEEK. For more industry news, check out eWEEK.com's Retail Site.