Fujitsu Brings Euro-Style Two-Step Checkout To U.S. Will It Work On Main Street?

Written by Evan Schuman
July 10th, 2008

Fujitsu is hoping retailers in the United States will embrace a checkout system used by some European stores, but untested in the U.S., that splits scanning and payment processes into two different stations in the store. If American retailers decide to switch to this system, it will call for a significant overhaul of their current checkout systems.

The Hypermarket U-Scan Genesis Payment Station works by allowing products to be scanned at one station–by a cashier–and then paid for at another–via self-checkout. After the cashier scans the items, the customer pays for them at the U-Scan Genesis Payment Station, freeing up the cashier to move on to the next customer.

The approach is billed as one that accelerates the entire checkout process. But a more accurate way of looking at it is that it splits the checkout process into two segments. It both shortens the grocery-scanning lane and moves the slower payment portion to another area of the store, where long lines may be less objectionable. Sometimes, line backups stretch into main aisles, discouraging customers and interrupting storeflow.

"What’s fundamentally different with this design is that (when customers are) done offloading all their items onto the belt, (they) can move forward with their cart, give their cart to the bagger and then step up to a payment station," said Paul Burel, Director of U-Scan Marketing Strategy. "If your front-end can do double the capacity with half the space and still have human beings helping and adding a little bit of technology, you’re effectively breaking the transactions up into two pieces: itemization and tendering. It makes sense."

Burel said his team is in discussions with some unidentified large American grocery retailers, who he said are planning to start trials of the system by next year.

The U-Scan uses Fujitsu’s iPAD and has been deployed in Europe for about 16 months. It costs roughly $13,000 per lane, plus the cost of a self-checkout unit, which costs about $1,500 a year, according to Burel.

IHL President Greg Buzek said the task of reconfiguring the setup may be one of the reasons the U.S. hasn’t used this concept yet. He added that European stores typically close around 7 p.m., as opposed to U.S. stores, which stay open later. Because of this early closing time, he said European stores are swarmed with customers between 5 and 7 p.m. U.S. store traffic, in contrast, is typically spread out more, so separating the payment from the scanning station may not be worth revamping the entire system, Buzek said.

"Lanes have to be far enough apart so the customer can be down there with their cart and have room for their cart to be able to bag and load up," Buzek said. "That’s your challenge. Typically, you’re just not set up that way."


Comments are closed.


StorefrontBacktalk delivers the latest retail technology news & analysis. Join more than 60,000 retail IT leaders who subscribe to our free weekly email. Sign up today!

Most Recent Comments

Why Did Gonzales Hackers Like European Cards So Much Better?

I am still unclear about the core point here-- why higher value of European cards. Supply and demand, yes, makes sense. But the fact that the cards were chip and pin (EMV) should make them less valuable because that demonstrably reduces the ability to use them fraudulently. Did the author mean that the chip and pin cards could be used in a country where EMV is not implemented--the US--and this mis-match make it easier to us them since the issuing banks may not have as robust anti-fraud controls as non-EMV banks because they assumed EMV would do the fraud prevention for them Read more...
Two possible reasons that I can think of and have seen in the past - 1) Cards issued by European banks when used online cross border don't usually support AVS checks. So, when a European card is used with a billing address that's in the US, an ecom merchant wouldn't necessarily know that the shipping zip code doesn't match the billing code. 2) Also, in offline chip countries the card determines whether or not a transaction is approved, not the issuer. In my experience, European issuers haven't developed the same checks on authorization requests as US issuers. So, these cards might be more valuable because they are more likely to get approved. Read more...
A smart card slot in terminals doesn't mean there is a reader or that the reader is activated. Then, activated reader or not, the U.S. processors don't have apps certified or ready to load into those terminals to accept and process smart card transactions just yet. Don't get your card(t) before the terminal (horse). Read more...
The marketplace does speak. More fraud capacity translates to higher value for the stolen data. Because nearly 100% of all US transactions are authorized online in real time, we have less fraud regardless of whether the card is Magstripe only or chip and PIn. Hence, $10 prices for US cards vs $25 for the European counterparts. Read more...
@David True. The European cards have both an EMV chip AND a mag stripe. Europeans may generally use the chip for their transactions, but the insecure stripe remains vulnerable to skimming, whether it be from a false front on an ATM or a dishonest waiter with a handheld skimmer. If their stripe is skimmed, the track data can still be cloned and used fraudulently in the United States. If European banks only detect fraud from 9-5 GMT, that might explain why American criminals prefer them over American bank issued cards, who have fraud detection in place 24x7. Read more...

Our apologies. Due to legal and security copyright issues, we can't facilitate the printing of Premium Content. If you absolutely need a hard copy, please contact customer service.