The New IBM SCO (Self-Checkout)

With their newly redesigned Self-Checkout (SCO) System IBM has created a modular concept that will make it easier and more affordable for supermarkets to install. Some of the new features on the SCO are:

• Modular design that allows tremendous flexibility in configuring the front end, now and tomorrow
• Designed to maximize customer throughput
• Units may be separated to deploy distinct "paystation" operations
• Smaller units that allow more free space
• Improved cash management and security with cash recycling and cashless options
• Integrated cash tracking and reporting for each lane with low level alerting
• Ease of use designed around ADA (American Disabilities Act) guidelines
• 100 percent above-the-counter interactions
• Follow me LED lighting to guide the user through the transaction process
• Self-checkout software application validated against PCI Security Standards

When combined with IBM ACE and IBM's CHEC (Checkout Environment for Consumer-Service) software this new totally integrated hardware design provides a lower total cost of ownership (TCO).

When considering a self-checkout system be sure to consider these guidelines:

1. Develop well-defined criteria and planned objectives for successful self-checkout
2. Start with a strong management sponsorship and commitment to making SCO work
3. Continuously manage SCO security to balance speed of transaction with security
4. Provide effective coverage of self-checkout lanes with customer friendly associates who can encourage usage, assist customers at the lane, and answer customer questions increasing throughput and increasing customer satisfaction.

For more information on how your store can profit from utilizing the new IBM Self-Checkout please contact STCR at (607) 757-0181.

Food Prices are Cheaper in the City

For New Yorkers, the high price of groceries is an accepted truth of city life, with everyday shopping trips and cost-of-living indexes confirming the city's costly status. However, one study found that food in New York City is actually cheaper than in other parts of the country.

This study overturns the conventional wisdom that big cities have more expensive groceries than smaller ones. A household that moved from Des Moines to New York and purchased goods from the same type of stores in the two cities would realize a 10% drop in the overall cost of its grocery purchases.

This study compared identical products sold in cities big and small, both at high-end grocery stores and discount retailers. In nearly every case, New York products were cheaper than in places such as Memphis, Indianapolis and Milwaukee.

For city residents who feel their entire paycheck is consumed by food this study seems unbelievable. The reason New York is perceived to be expensive is because there is so much you can spend your money on. The perception of higher costs comes from the vastly expanded food choices available in a major metropolis like New York, which throws off the average prices used in cost-of-living calculations.

Bigger cities also tend to be wealthier than their smaller counterparts, and the grocery-variety gap between New York and Des Moines is filled with many fancy foods that cater to wealthy customers. For example, since New York has more stores selling more varieties of cage-free organic eggs, the average price of eggs that factor into a cost-of-living index appears higher. But when you compare the same products for sale in similar grocery stores in different cities New York and other large cities were found to be cheaper all around when compared with smaller cities. Expensive foods at New York's high-end stores were less pricey than the same products in smaller cities, and inexpensive foods at New York's low-end stores also cost less than their Iowa equivalents.

Leadership in the Work Place

There are two types of leaders: those who believe that you can motivate people and those who believe that motivation comes from within. When we try to motivate people what we're really doing is encouraging people to act on already-present motivation, ideally in a way that furthers the organization's mission.

How do we do that?

Encourage and Applaud Great Ideas
Open and maintain dialogue about critical areas, such as reasons for fluctuating attendance weekly. Allow idea-sharing in many ways, both formal and informal. Conduct meetings featuring formal presentations with detailed action plans. In addition, accept pitches via e-mai and coax brainstorming and idea-polishing through impromptu conversations.

Don’t Disparage Bad Ideas
When people are encouraged to suggest great ideas, it’s inevitable that they will present good ones and really bad ones as well. To create and maintain an environment that supports innovation and creative thinking, help everyone with ideas independently.

When starting a new project or assignment, even the most enthusiastic and conscientious employees need to understand your direction. Despite the depth of experience and knowledge, people may get stuck at a crossroads. To keep moving forward and keep people engaged, clarify results desired.

Eventually the vision and the steps needed to achieve goals make sense. When people see clearly how certain actions will take them down the desired paths, they take action and make good decisions without hesitation, on their own, by drawing upon their internal stores of motivation.

Specialty Foods Sales on the Rise

What is Specialty food? “Foods and beverages that exemplify quality and innovation, including artisanal, natural, and local products that are often made by small manufacturers, artisans and entrepreneurs from the U.S. and abroad.”

According to the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade’s (NASFT) annual State of the Specialty Food Industry 2011, total sales of specialty foods in 2010 were $70.32 billion, with $55.92 billion of sales at retail. Specialty foods represent 13.1 percent of all retail food sales. In the US alone there are about 25,000 Specialty Foods stores.

US consumer spending on specialty foods and beverages, a rose 7.7 percent in 2010 according to a study done by Hoovers. This means that the Specialty Food Industry is on the rise. Specialty Foods are a growing part of the American food scene, driven by new flavors, new products and growing consumer interest.

Many grocers are still confine specialty foods products to a specific area. Try integrating the fresh, organic and natural products with other similar products. This will let the consumer know they have better choices throughout the store. Store entrances and exits are a perfect showcase for these products. Display creative pictures and directional ads as consumers enter a store to create the sense that your store is promoting a variety of specialty foods. Try to avoid items such as gossip magazines, candy, soda and vending machines at the exit of the store. Replace these items with health magazines and cookbooks, fresh juices and healthier snacks.

Turn Your Customer Display into Advertising Space

Customer displays have come a long way since the days when they only showed two lines of text. Now Customer displays are full screen monitors with text and graphic capabilities. While the customer is watching their scrolling receipt, why not show them some in-store advertising?

You can display your weekly specials, show what point promotions you are offering or list the locations of your other stores. You can choose what order multiple ads will display or even show a short video to your customers. Ads placed on the display, in front of customers allows you to take advantage of extra advertising. You can sell the space to you vendors or local businesses to advertise their promotions or a community event.

To start taking full advantage of your potential adverting space contact STCR Business Systems, Inc. at (607) 757-0181. Don’t have full screen customer displays? STCR can help with that too.