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Dubai Diaries: From cash registers to scan-and-go

kirstin@khaleejtimes.com Filed on July 7, 2021
Photo/Alamy.ae

People still go to the supermarket but the experience is now much smarter — and, for me, a lot more ‘personal’.

Every week, on grocery day, I thank the tech wizards for giving rise to the age of self-checkout kiosks and scan-and-go lanes. No more queues. No more calculators. Only a dream come true. While online grocery-shopping could get you the same, if not next-level, convenience, we have to admit there’s nothing like wandering the aisles of brick-and-mortar stores.

People still go to the supermarket but the experience is now much smarter — and, for me, a lot more ‘personal’. Cashiers have always fascinated me since I was old enough to count money, around 4, I suppose. It was both my dream job and an alter ego. I would build my own cash register using Lego bricks; draw my own money; and round up trinkets that my customer-self would hand over to my cashier-self for scanning and bagging.

Today, the four-year-old me would have been the happiest, with Carrefour beating Disneyland by a long chalk. Since the retail giant brought scan-and go to their Me’aisem outlet, I have never stopped ‘scanning and going’.

Grab the scanner, point at an item’s barcode and shoot. Then, it goes straight to the screen, where you can keep a tab on your bill —a feature that is helpful especially to shoppers like me who hate exceeding the budget, so I enter each and every price tag into a calculator. Now, bye-bye calculator.

Then, let’s talk about the checkout queue that is already a thing of the past for some of us. I had been through the worst of lines before, with one snaking down the aisle of the chocolate factory. The waiting time would tire me out that I forget how much I love hearing the beep, click-clack-clack, kring of the cash register. Now, I get to be my own cashier.

Opting for scan-and-go also means going green as bringing your own reusable grocery bags become a lot more convenient than using the store’s plastic ones. Just set up your bags inside the push cart and then drop your purchases there after scanning.

That’s certainly a lot faster than grabbing a bunch of plastic bags, opening them up one by one and filling each with only around seven items. What a struggle! So, yes, don’t forget your bags.

With the world in a hurry to make things smarter than ever, my favourite scanners are now being called ‘old-fashioned’ in some parts of the globe. Actually, you can now use your own phone to scan items.

In the US, Amazon has introduced the cashierless ‘Just Walk Out’ tech, which allows shoppers to just walk in; scan a code through the app; get stuff from the shelves; and leave, with the purchase automatically charged in the card linked to the app.

Wait up! I’m all for tech and all, but can we just calm down? Can you please let me enjoy scanning, bagging, and the whole shebang a little longer?

Kirstin Bernabe