Self-Checkout Units Come to Amish Country

EAST EARL, Pa. -- In an indication of the growing acceptance of self-checkout technology on the consumer landscape, next month Amish shoppers at community-based independent Shady Maple Farm Market will be able to check out their own groceries before heading home in their horse and buggy.

The single-store retailer -- located deep in the heart of Amish country, Pennsylvania’s Lancaster County -- plans to install four Fujitsu U-Scan self-checkout units. "We looked into self-checkout a few years back, but the technology wasn’t where we wanted it to be," Kevin Porsche, director of IT told Progressive Grocer. "Now we are much more confident in the systems, and need to install them to be competitive. Many retailers in our market have them and they are well-accepted."

It wasn’t an easy sell, however, according to Porsche. "Marvin Weaver, our c.e.o., was concerned that shoppers would be able to cheat the system, but those fears were put to rest by our reseller," he said.

The reseller, Retalix Philadelphia (formerly C&L Retail Solutions), brought the c.e.o. in to its offices for a demonstration, and invited him try to beat the system.

"The unit has a variety of checks and balances to prevent theft," said Bill Wolf, supermarket specialist at Retalix Philadelphia. "They are backed up with alerts to the self-checkout attendant when there is an inconsistency between a product scanned and its recorded weight."

Shady Maple will install the units in mid-August, after which Porsche will focus on educating shoppers on how to use them. Porsche said many of its customers are accustomed to the retailer's high level of service, and he will need to assure them that current service levels will remain.

Even with the large number of Amish in his market, however, Porsche said he is not concerned about shopper acceptance. "I recently saw an Amish man at a local Wal-Mart using one."

But while Shady Maple might be getting more high tech inside, the horse and buggy posts in the parking lot aren’t going anywhere.
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