Retailers and grocers have always found value in technology solutions that help increase checkout speeds – and the overall customer experience – without compromising checkout accuracy, particularly during peak shopping periods. However, with the COVID-19 outbreak driving even more shoppers to self-checkout lanes, the industry is even more eager to introduce scanning solutions that help customers complete their transactions quickly and safely. Stores are also focused on reducing the number of losses that occur during self-checkout transactions due to accidentally missed scans, inaccurate manual inputs for picklist items such as produce and baked goods and intentional theft and fraud.
That is why Zebra is so excited to announce that the popular MP7000 bioptic scanner scale is now available* with a high-resolution color camera that captures both high-quality still images and video footage of each and every action at both cashier-manned and self-checkout registers.
The Many (New) Benefits of Watching Your Checkout Lanes in Living Color
Since the first day it was put to work back in 2017, the MP7000 has been able to scan and decode 1D/2D barcodes the first time they appear in the scanner’s field of view, even if they are poorly printed, damaged, low contrast or on curved surfaces. These capabilities have proved useful in improving throughput and productivity at checkout lanes.
The high throughput of this multi-plane imager has also facilitated the scanning of loyalty card barcodes, mobile barcodes and Digimarc® barcodes at the point of sale (POS) with extreme accuracy and speed since the beginning. Just check out the video in this blog post:
Wish Your Grocery Store Checkout Lane Could Move Faster? Watch This.
However, the COVID-19 outbreak has brought loss prevention and safety measures into extreme focus as more shoppers flock to self-checkout lanes. There is also increased pressure to expedite scans at cashier-manned registers in order to minimize prolonged close-contact exposures with customers and reduce the build-up of people waiting in both self-checkout and manned lanes.
Though the high-resolution color camera add-on was in the works long before the COVID-19 outbreak, the many new benefits it offers are bound to give retailers and grocers a greater return on investment (ROI) right now, including:
- Close Monitoring of All Checkout Transactions (from Afar) – One of the benefits of purchasing the MP7000 with the color camera solution versus an off-the-shelf solution is the integration of the camera within the MP7000’s scanning system. The camera utilizes the MP7000’s intelligent illumination system, which automatically turns on when products are in the field of view, to capture detailed color images and video of each scanning action, including hand motions. The MP7000 color camera model can then tag the captured images with information such as decode data and weigh events. This allows retailers, grocers and other Zebra customers to develop applications that leverage this data to support loss prevention efforts and improve productivity. For example, software could be designed to use the captured video and images to verify the items crossing the scanner match the transaction details.
What’s particularly powerful about this new color camera is that, when integrated with the right software applications, it can help retailers recognize objects, see when items are stacked and even identify fake scanning actions based on captured footage of hand motions. This empowers loss prevention teams to quickly identify and take action when sweethearting, accidental missed scans or intentional scan avoidance incidents occur at both self-checkout and cashier-manned checkout lanes.
It also enables associates on the store floor to stand back and observe self-checkout transactions from a safe physical distance, as loss prevention applications will alert stores associates if and when a no-read, tag switch or other shrink-causing incident is detected. Only then would they need to approach the customer.
- Help with Shrink Reduction of Non-Packaged Goods – When integrated with the right software application, the high-resolution color camera enables retailers to recognize different types of items, such as produce and bakery goods that typically lack a barcode label. The exceptionally-detailed images and videos captured by the new MP7000 camera helps to ensure that customers and cashiers are selecting the correct items from the on-screen picklists and not trying to enter lower cost items for the items being purchased.
- Fewer Touchpoints at the POS – The high-resolution camera could also help to improve customer and employee safety by reducing the number of screen touches required to input SKUs or quantities for non-packaged goods via shortened picklists – with the right complementary software application, of course. The new camera could also be applied to help minimize the number of customer input errors for such items, which typically requires store associate intervention at self-checkout lanes. Depending on the application’s design, the captured images can even be used to generate a smaller menu picklist for non-packaged items such as produce. This helps speed up the checkout process at both cashier-manned and self-checkout lanes – something that is especially important when there is traditionally prolonged “face to face” contact with cashiers.
- It Respects People’s Privacy – Since the camera only turns on when products come into view, you are able to maintain the privacy of customers and employees randomly walking by. Plus, you always have the option to use software on the back end of your systems to blur out camera footage of people within proximity of the register during active checkout events.
In other words, the MP7000’s new high-resolution color camera provides a whole new level of highly detailed and highly secure visibility into every product swipe, button push and weigh event that occurs at the register. In turn, you have the real-time, actionable intelligence needed to simultaneously protect pricing models, profitability, customers and employees at the POS.
If you’re interested in learning more about how the MP7000 – and the new color camera in particular – can be maximized** in your store(s), please reach out to my team to schedule a call and/or demo.
*If you purchased an MP7000 after April 1, 2020, you can easily retrofit your existing scanner with the new high-resolution color camera kit. Simply remove the rear housing cover and snap in the camera. No tools are needed. If you purchased an MP7000 prior to April 1, 2020, please contact Zebra to discuss an upgrade to the latest-generation scanner to leverage the color camera.
** Software developer kits are available for the MP7000 if you’re interested in building and implementing additional features using the new high-resolution color camera. Learn more here.