Checking Myself Out

This spring, Dusseldorf, Germany-based Metro AG, the world’s third largest supermarket chain, opened the company’s Extra Future Store.

The high-tech supermarket in Rheinberg features wireless check out, smart shelves that alert staff to product shortages, and an electronic produce scale that can sort fruits and vegetables using a digital camera. But the neatest feature as far as I’m concerned are the tricked-out shopping carts, which include a touch-screen display that can serve as personal shopping assistants, even providing directions to where products are shelved.

Self-service checkout has been slow to grow in the United States, with the initial trial balloons being floated as early as 1998 and firms continuing to “test” applications today. But I wonder whether the addition of inventory management and the personal shopping assistants just might be the killer app.

Now, where can I find capers again?