Saturday brought another pilgrimage to my local Walmart (more than a few call it “Wally World” after the fictional theme park in the first Vacation movie, the one with Chevy Chase and Christie Brinkley in it) which I usually do on Friday or Saturday. I find it best to go to the store by about 8:30 or so to avoid the masses, and avoid the people in their cars who hover for a specific parking spot when there’s 200 or so open spots on the sides of the lot, or in the back.
I counted the number of items I put in my cart, the total being right at 20. That qualified me for an express checkout. On top of that, it qualified me to use the automated checkout machines that had been installed at my store within the past month.
Believe it or not, this was not my first encounter with an automated checkout machine. My previous experience took place in 2000 at a Charlotte Harris Teeter store. Seeing that this was my first such checkout in 16 years, I went very slowly.
The mechanics of how to use the machine were play simple. With a hand scanner, or with a scanning device in the middle of the kiosk, you ran the product through the machine so that it read the UPC code on each item, then kept a running total of the cost on the screen.
When I got to the bananas, there was a bit of a snag. Bananas don’t have a UPC code on them, because when you pay for that fruit, you pay by the pound. I sat there a few moments, and without asking for help (I’m a guy – I don’t like admitting I’m lost, and I don’t like admitting I’m stuck on something) an attendant came over and explained how you have to search for it. Then, you put it on the middle of the kiosk so it can be weighed.
It was a pretty good experience, and I figure (unfortunately) that this may be Walmart’s future, so I had better learn how to do it sooner rather than later. I wouldn’t recommend using the machines if you have 20 items and you’re there alone, as it might take you a bit to organize, scan, and bag the items.
And with this technological advancement, the future gets a bit closer. What’s next, drones that will pick out the items we want?