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Commissary upgrades checkout stations

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Patrick Air Force Base Commissary customers can soon expect an improved level of service when they pay for their groceries, according to store officials. Starting Tuesday, the Patrick store will install the Defense Commissary Agency's new state-of-the-art checkout stations.

This new front-end operation, known as the Commissary Advanced Resale Transaction System, or CARTS, features new cashier stations designed to make purchasing groceries easier and more efficient, said Ron Rogers, store director. It also includes self-checkout modules that will enable customers to scan and pay for their own purchases.

"Our customers will definitely benefit from this new system," said Rogers of the checkout operation that is scheduled to be installed in each of DeCA's 261 stores. "DeCA wanted a checkout process that was simple to use, accurate and secure in scanning purchases and reliable in that it wouldn't disrupt store operations. We have that with CARTS.

"We are especially excited about the enhanced self-checkout stations," Rogers said. "The automated teller machine has become a staple of the banking industry and self-checkouts will do the same for the commissary benefit."

The commissary agency contracted with IBM in December 2005 to replace the commissaries' aging front-end system with a newer, more reliable operating system "that was built specifically for retailers," said Rogers. "We have improved the look and function of check stands thanks to an ergonomic design that reduces a lot of unnecessary 'stuff' between the cashier and the customer."

Other features of the new checkout stands include the following:

· A 15-inch, color-screen display to allow customers a better view of their purchases. The screen can also be used to remind shoppers of store specials and other promotions.

· A touch-screen display for cashiers that will speed up the checkout process.

· A hand-held scanner that allows cashiers to reach bulkier items in the cart.

· Price-check stations that will enable customers to scan the price of products before they reach the checkout station.

· Electronic check conversion which speeds up the check-writing process by eliminating handling of paper checks and bank deposits by store personnel.

"This system represents a new era of service for the customer," said Rogers. "Our customers will be amazed at how this technology will improve their shopping experience."