Smart Data Capture Makes Retail Work Simpler and Shopping Experiences Smoother at U.S.M.H
U.S.M.H, an alliance of supermarket operators in the Tokyo metropolitan area, integrated Scandit Smart Data Capture into their employee-facing application to increase operational efficiency when picking and packing online orders. Following this success, they also deployed Scandit into their Scan&Go ignica self-scanning and online delivery mobile app for customers. Now live across 500 stores, including Maruetsu, Kasumi, and MaxValu Kanto, U.S.M.H customers have given positive feedback around the smooth, contactless, cashless shopping experiences – and less waiting time.
The introduction of Scandit Smart Data Capture is a key part of our plan to promote structural reform based on digitalization. Its high-performance scanning has enabled us to improve the efficiency of picking operations. And now, Scandit technology is also indispensable in enabling customers to use Scan&Go ignica on their own smartphones to scan products and receive information about events in the store.Mr. Taiji Sumino, VP, Digital Transformation Dept Program Manager, DX Development Bureau, U.S.M.H
The “U.S.M.H Official Mobile App” firstly launched in October 2019, using smartphone cameras to enable product scanning and payment functions. In November 2020, the app was renamed to Scan&Go ignica and expanded the number of stores including Maruetsu, Kasumi and Maxvalu Kanto. However, slow scanning speed and frequent errors resulted in complaints from customers using the app.
To solve these issues, U.S.M.H wanted to investigate introducing a new scanning engine. They decided to run an internal testing program to validate the scanning performance of Scandit Smart Data Capture against two other software-based scanning engines.
To evaluate the scanning performance, they selected 200 different products from various locations throughout stores. These include items and environments that are prone to errors and which make scanning challenging, including dried food, canned goods, ice cream containers covered in frost and areas suffering from light glare.
While Scandit produced zero scanning errors and an overwhelmingly high average scanning speed, the other scan engines recorded numerous false positives. Mr. Sumino commented: “Before the experiment, we didn’t think there would be much difference, but we were surprised to see a significant contrast in the actual use. With the other scanning engines, we sometimes could not read a barcode in poor conditions, even if we tried for 30 seconds. With Scandit’s performance, we could expect a significant improvement in customer convenience and application usage, so we decided immediately to implement the system.”
Following the Coronavirus pandemic, the demand for contactless shopping increased. This resulted in a significant growth of users for U.S.M.H’s online supermarket and Scan&Go ignica self-scanning app. To ensure picking operations could cope with the increased volume of orders for their online supermarket service, “Online Delivery”, U.S.M.H. deployed Scandit Smart Data Capture into its order picking application in August 2021.
Previously employees had used expensive handheld terminals for picking online orders. However, in order to scale up the online delivery business they developed a picking application to run on Android(*1) tablets. During testing in stores for order picking, the tablet’s built-in cameras demonstrated low scanning accuracy and inability to scan irregularly priced products (i.e. meat, fish and other items sold by weight). This left frontline employees having to manually input the items and led to complaints that the system was “unusable”.
So U.S.M.H decided to implement Scandit Smart Data Capture due to its superior scanning performance. They worked closely with both the company who developed the picking application and Scandit during the implementation period. This included detailed support into the actual scanning process and how to fine tune the app to read the barcodes on various products. The response was very quick, which made the whole process very smooth.
Currently, all 119 stores that support online delivery at U.S.M.H. are picking and packing merchandise using the app equipped with Scandit Smart Data Capture.
Transforming scanning speed and accuracy for customers
After proving its scanning speed and accuracy and speed, Scandit Smart Data Capture was subsequently installed in the Scan&Go ignica customer-facing app in January 2022. This was used in stores across the U.S.M.H group and also externally in discount stores such as Palette.
The Scan&Go ignica application allows customers visiting a store to scan items and make payments on their own smartphones. This eliminates the need for a cash register, allowing customers to shop without ever having to queue. The application is also hygienic because it reduces contact with cash and store clerks, which saw users grow significantly following the pandemic.
U.S.M.H identified three operational benefits from switching the scanning engine in their order picking app to Scandit Smart Data Capture.
The ability to move away from expensive handheld scanning devices, which enabled them to quickly roll out the smart device and app-based system to all stores, while reducing the total cost of ownership.
The picking process itself has been simplified, so that even new employees or staff from other stores can take on the task. No training is needed, just follow the instructions from the app to get started.
Although the tablet devices remain the same, the scanning performance is much better, and the application has become an indispensable part of the picking and packing process, with on-site staff saying that it is easy to use and very popular.
Due to the increased efficiency, time freed-up for employees can now be filled with real-time inventory management and shifted to “real-time visualization measures of inventory status” – a key element for successful online supermarkets. In the future, the app will also be equipped with a function that displays a map of the store and guides the user to the location of the items to be picked for additional operational efficiency.
A great response from customers
When Scandit was first introduced into the customer self-scanning application, there was a great response on social networking sites from users who noticed a significant improvement in scanning performance.
“The scanning performance improved so much that we even had to slow it down, adjusting the scanning speed to match the speed of the customer movement in the supermarket. We now consider Scan&Go ignica to be so important and it would not be possible without Scandit Smart Data Capture,” said Mr. Sumino.
“Currently, self-scanning utilization rates range from 3% to 10%, depending on the store and region. In addition, Kasumi’s new “BLΛNDE” business model in Tsukuba City, Ibaraki Prefecture, has a high Scan&Go ignica utilization rate of 30%, which means that the self-service POS is rarely overcrowded. In addition, some stores have reported a 7% increase in customer spend among customers using Scan&Go ignica.” Mr. Sumino commented.
U.S.M.H calculated that a 10% utilization rate of the application will enable them to remove one cash register, which will lead to a reduction in labor costs and more effective deployment. They plan to continue to implement various initiatives to ultimately achieve a 10% average usage rate of Scan&Go ignica across all stores.
(*1) Android is a trademark of Google LLC.