Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Retailers Show off Latest Innovations; Self-Scanning Grocery Conveyor Belt Is among Devices Showcased at Retailers' Convention

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Retailers Show off Latest Innovations; Self-Scanning Grocery Conveyor Belt Is among Devices Showcased at Retailers' Convention

Article excerpt

NEW YORK I got a hint of black pepper.

Someone else thought she smelled lemongrass.

We laughed when the spice we were supposedly smelling popped up on the screen: cardamom. We blamed our errors on our weak noses while also wondering if the machine had really emitted any smell at all.

We were standing before a kiosk in the middle of the National Retail Federation's cavernous and dizzying expo floor at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York.

Hundreds of exhibitors this week rolled out fancy carpets and erected elaborate displays showcasing the latest store gadgetry and innovations such as bar code scanners, point-of-sale devices (for example, handheld card swipers to make transactions), interactive kiosks and "smart" walls that could be coming to a store near you.

At the Intel booth, manager Mary Murphy-Hoye showed me a machine that is found at McCormick & Co.' s flagship store in Baltimore.

Powered by Intel processors, the kiosk has a "guess that spice" game in which it actually sprays a smell. The idea is to educate consumers about some of the spices that McCormick sells.

Also at the Intel booth was a Costa Coffee self-service espresso machine a glorified version of those found in office break rooms and gas stations. It tries to mimic the experience of a coffee shop replete with the buzzing sounds inside a shop and offered a myriad of flavors and styles of drinks. A previous generation of this machine is already in some 2,500 locations across the United Kingdom.

The German company Wincor Nixdorf displayed a souped-up self- checkout lane. Men in suits demonstrated how it works: You place your grocery items on a moving belt. The items go through a mini- tunnel with lots of bright lights that automatically scan the bar codes.

Because, you know, it's so taxing to scan them yourself. (And, I should add, it also cuts down on shoppers not paying for items because of improper scanning.)

It's currently being piloted in a handful of stores across Europe, an associate told me.

Another display that caught my eye was a woman in a pencil skirt and a patterned blouse standing on a small pedestal by the Tensator booth. …

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