Hutchinson event planner Kitty Keazer was sold on Dillon’s newest shopping technology after a quick 20-minute trip through the Marketplace.

“It tells you how much you’ve spent as your shopping,” said Keazer, one of a dozen Hutchinson / Reno County Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors invited to an inaugural unveiling of “Scan, Bag, Go” shopping technology in Hutchinson on Monday.

“That’s always a big concern for me, staying within budget,” Keazer said, particularly when shopping for events her company organizes.

With the technology – accessible either through an app that customers download onto their phones or using a wireless handheld scanner available at the store – shoppers scan items they are purchasing as they walk through the store, then place them in bags in their cart.

The store recommends bringing reusable cloth bags for in-cart bagging, but also has some available for sale at the “Scan, Bag, Go” kiosk just inside the store entrance.

When done shopping, the customer uses one of the self-check lanes to pay, first scanning a barcode on those machines to trigger the purchase, then hitting the “Pay Now” button. They then show their receipt to a store employee before heading out the door.

A customer can also load a credit card into their phone and pay for the shopping trip through their phone, saving even more time at checkout.

The system, created by Kroger's in-house research and development team, was introduced to Kansas in Topeka earlier this year.

The company plans to implement it in about a dozen other Kansas and Nebraska stores before the end of the year – including Lawrence, Wichita, Manhattan, Andover, Derby, Garden City and at Baker’s in Omaha and Bellevue, Nebraska – with more stores joining in 2019, said Dillon’s spokesperson Sheila Lowrie.

It will not be available, however, in all Dillon stores and Lowrie didn’t indicate where else in Hutchinson it might be introduced.

With either the app – available in the Apple or Google Play App Stores – or using the in-store scanner, a customer first scans their Dillon’s Plus Card or enters their alternative number, Lowrie explained. That also links the system to store coupons and the current week’s sales ad.

Then scan the barcode on items as you shop before placing them in a cart.

The biggest issue that she’s had, Lowrie said, is remembering to scan an item before placing it in her cart.

By doing their own bagging as they shop, customers can sort items as they go, which also makes unloading at home faster and easier, Lowrie noted.

“You can bag it how you want to put it away,” she said. “You may have one bag for the pantry, one for the freezer, one for pet foods. It saves you both time in the store by avoiding the checkout and at home when putting the groceries away.”

For buying produce, the process depends on what is purchased.

For single items, such as lemons, the produce is scanned, and the number purchased entered. If the item is sold by weight, however, it’s a multi-step process requiring scanning the item, then a barcode above a scale in the produce department is scanned, and then the produce is weighed, with that information then being automatically electronically sent to the phone or scanner.

If a customer scans an item and then decides not to buy it, it easily can be deleted, Lowrie said.

The in-store scanner comes pre-loaded with Dillons-issued coupons, and shoppers who have paper coupons can redeem those by giving them to the self-checkout attendant.

“With every new product, service, and technology integration, Dillons is redefining how our customers shop and reimaging the grocery store of the future,” Lowrie said. “We know customers are looking for added convenience, so we are excited to debut this latest way to shop for groceries.”

Scan, Bag, Go joins online shopping and pickup, as well as Instacart home-delivery the company announced earlier this year, as services in Hutchinson.

Asked by Keazer about the possibility of theft, Lowrie said there are multiple levels of security at the store, though she declined to detail them.

She also noted that since customers enter their identification to use the system when shopping, that alone would cut down on theft.

Lowrie also declined to say what percentage of shoppers use, or are expected to use the new technology, noting it is proprietary information. Same with online and delivery numbers.

Some people have raised concern that the new system will eliminate jobs, but Lowrie said they continue hiring and cross-training employees to both check and assist with the new service as hosts or hostesses.

“We had a hiring fair last Thursday and filled 15 positions in Hutchinson,” Lowrie said. “We’re still looking for more great people in Hutchinson.”