Meijer installs new automatic checkout lanes

Meijer Inc. is hoping a new checkout system being tested out at its Jenison location will speed up the checkout process for customers. Installed in the 550 Baldwin St. store on Thursday, April 3, the high tech system automatically scans items placed on the conveyer belt.

The automatic scanner uses 17 cameras to find and scan the barcodes on items placed on the conveyer belt. After merchandise has been scanned, it is sent to one of three different collection areas to be bagged.

Customers still have to do the bagging themselves. However, unlike the U-Scan self-checkout lanes, the new checkout lane is staffed by a cashier. The cashier is there to assist with checkout and help with any problems that arise with the new conveyer belts.

Traditional checkout lanes with an attendant scanning and bagging items, and self-checkout lanes will continue to be options for customers as well.

Frank Guglielmi, a Meijer spokesperson, told

“It’s all about choices for our customers. They can choose how they want to shop and which technology they want to use.”

For now, the new checkout lane is only available to customers at the Jenison Meijer location. The technology could be installed at Meijer’s other 203 locations in the future, but it is not yet known how long the testing phase will last.

“There is no end date to the test,” Guglielmi said. “We are going to evaluate the data as we go.”

Meijer decided to test the new checkout lanes at the Jenison store because it is located nearby a regional office, so retail operations staff don’t have to make a long trip to come and observe the new line.

While a number of customers at the Jenison store lined up to try out the new scanner in the days following its installation, Meijer will have to wait and see whether they will choose the new checkout lane on subsequent visits to the grocery store.

Calvin senior Rachel Hekman is skeptical of the new technology. Hekman wonders whether the new checkout lanes will really save customers time.

“I would still use self checkout lanes if I’m going for speed,” she said. “I like being able to see that everything is being rung up properly and at the right prices. An automatic scanner sounds like it would take more time than either the self-checkout or the regular checkout. Items would probably need to be placed one by one, in single file lines, with the barcode facing a certain way.”