I live in downtown Philadelphia, which is lovely. I can walk to all sorts of places and really don’t have to leave a 5 block radius to satisfy most of my needs.
One thing that was missing for a long time was a giant supermarket. Sometimes you want to stand in a brightly lit aisle and consider 25 slightly different kinds of peanut butter, and I couldn’t do that. I could go to a few stores and get super fancy peanut butter or go to a local market and consider 4 different kinds of peanut butter (what is this, Soviet Russia?).
That all changed when Giant opened a supermarket in my neighborhood. It isn’t as large as their suburban outposts, but it is frickin’ huge for a supermarket in the middle of a city.
I’ve gone there countless times, and each time, I would walk past this “Scan IT!” kiosk located right at the top of the escalators and ignore it:
I was chatting with my pal Dan, and he told me how great the whole “Scan it” thing was. You take the gun along with you, scan your items as you go, and then scan a code at check out and pay. That’s it! So I decided to brave the unknown and try it out for myself.
Reader, it is awesome.
I was put off by the sign saying you need to talk to the customer service desk to get started, but that’s no longer accurate. Just scan your Giant rewards card (which is normal-sized), and the kiosk assigns a scan gun to you. The scanner starts to flash to identify itself, and you pull it out to start shopping.
The scanner itself is pretty basic. It sort of feels like an old Windows Mobile device with a trigger (though I would imagine it is actually running Android). You can look up prices, find coupons, and scan items into your car by scanning bar codes.
There’s also an app that is supported in some Giants, which allows you to do the same thing with your phone. Honestly, I would still opt for the scanner because part of the joy is pulling the trigger. It is a very satisfying action.
If you need to buy produce you just pop your item on a scale, identify what it is, and slap on the sticker that the scale prints out. Scan the barcode and go about your shopping.
Since I walk to the store, I’m not buying lots of stuff. I take a reusable bag or two to the store and skip getting a cart. As I scan things, I put them in one of my bags. Once I’m done shopping, I head to the self-checkout and tap “Shopping Cart” and then “Check Out.” The scanner displays a barcode to scan at the checkout:
It already knows my Giant card number and applies any discounts. Nothing to bag, as I did that while shopping! I just pay and skip away home.
Sometimes the system does make you wait for an associate to come and look through all your items to make sure you aren’t some punk who is trying to steal ice cream sandwiches or something. That’s kind of annoying, but it happens rarely (only once for me so far).
Even though this feeds into my theory that America’s grocery stores are slowly trying to convert all of their customers into actually working in the store, I like this whole SCAN IT! thing (though I’m not sure why Giant needs to shout that. I also found out that the company that runs Giant supermarkets is called “The Giant Company” which I find quite amusing). It allows me to get in and get out, all while pretending that I’m on some sort of spy mission (the lamest spy mission ever created, but a spy mission nonetheless).