Kroger Is Now Letting Shoppers Do This for the First Time

The grocery chain is rolling this feature out to stores.

Nine million customers in the U.S. rely on their local Kroger store in order to get their grocery shopping done each and every day. The supermarket giant has nearly 3,000 locations spread across 35 states, allowing it to reach more than 60 million households in the country. And with that many shoppers to appease, Kroger needs to be continuously adapting and changing to better service these people. The grocery chain is doing just that by adding a new feature in some of its stores. Read on to find out what Kroger is letting shoppers do for the first time.

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Grocery stores have been struggling with the labor shortage.

Working in modern supermarket
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Like many other businesses, grocery stores across the U.S. have been struggling to staff stores amid a labor shortage. According to Forbes, nearly 6.3 million retail workers quit their jobs in the first 10 months of 2021 and by the end of October, employers were still having trouble filing nearly 1 million openings—mostly in the grocery sector.

Kroger has been no exception in this growing problem. During an interview on CNBC's Squawk Box last year, Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen acknowledged that one of the chain's biggest challenges was a shortage of staff. In Sept. 2021, the supermarket chain had about 20,000 job openings left unfulfilled. "We're aggressively hiring anywhere we can," McMullen said at the time. "One of the biggest constraints we have right now is finding talented people."

Kroger is now testing out new checkout options for shoppers.

man in close-up at the supermarket checkout
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In a potential attempt to alleviate staffing pressures, Kroger is now gearing up to make changes to its checkout process, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported on April 24. According to the newspaper, the grocery giant is adding new, larger self-checkout lanes to some of its stores. Kroger had been testing these lanes in Columbus, but it is now expanding this checkout option to more stores.

As the Cincinnati Enquirer reports, the new lanes will be belted. So shoppers will scan their own purchases, but once an item is scanned, it will get moved by a belt to a bagging area. There, a courtesy clerk will bag your groceries for you.

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The option is only rolling out in certain stores right now.

exterior of a kroger
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Only two Kroger stores—both in Columbus—had these shelf-checkout belt lanes before April, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported. But in the coming weeks, this checkout option will be added to dozens of the supermarkets in the greater Cincinnati, Northern Kentucky, and Dayton area. The first of the new rollout were put in stores last week, and throughout spring, it is expected that 42 Kroger stores will each get two belted lanes installed, according to the newspaper.

"We are excited to roll out this new enhancement to the customer shopping experience," Kroger spokeswoman Jenifer Moore told the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Kroger has also recently made other changes in the self-checkout space.

Self Checkout sign in a store
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The new belted lanes are not the only recent adaptation Kroger has made in the self-checkout space. In Feb. 2021, the supermarket giant launched its first all-self-checkout store, the Cincinnati Business Courier reported. According to the newspaper, the Kroger on Cedar Springs Road in Dallas, Texas, was installed with new self-checkout lanes and converted to a self-checkout only service as a pilot test for the grocer. But the store reportedly still employs cashiers and courtesy clerks to be available to assist customers when needed.

"Kroger is always looking for new ways to reinvent the checkout experience for its customers," Kroger spokeswoman April Martin told the Cincinnati Business Courier last year.

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