The bigwigs in retailing have talked about this for ages.
It’s a bit like a combination of using one of those price checker scanner things, and an ATM. You scan each item, and it tells you to put them into the bag as you scan. When you’re finished, you tell it how you’re paying, and use a card or cash to do so. Then you take your change and receipt, and walk out with your purchases.
So what, I wondered, was to stop you just walking out with stuff? I asked the guy standing by to help people, and he confirmed my suspicions: the magnetic doo-dah that sets off the alarms gets de-magnetised as you scan/place in bag. There’s probably some powerful magnetic forces around that area, since you don’t have to specifically rub the item on a pad like you see in some shops.
The process certainly saved some time, and the kids were most impressed. “That is so cool”, remarked Isaac.
Not so cool, of course, is the reduced numbers of staff required to run the place if more people start using them. But with the choice being to queue for ages for a checkout person, or do it yourself, as with ATMs 20-25 years ago, I suspect people will gradually adapt. It’ll be interesting to see if it spreads to other shops so readily.