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    Wegmans Said Testing Self-checkout at Single Location, Closing Photo Labs

    Further rollout of the self-checkout units to other stores will depend on customer reception, and as digital photography rises in popularity, in-store photo departments are becoming a thing of the past.

    Wegmans Food Markets Inc., which has received national recognition for customer service, is piloting self-checkout lanes at its store in Penfield, N.Y., according to published reports.

    The grocer opened four self-checkout lanes last Friday as part a test that will last at least a few months, depending on customer response, Wegmans spokeswoman Jo Natale told the Rochester, N.Y. Democrat and Chronicle. The store already has 21 regular and express lanes.

    Natale said that if customers like the self-checkout units, then Wegmans would roll them out to other stores. She added that shoppers in Wegmans' newer markets of Virginia, Maryland, and New Jersey, where self-checkout systems are more prevalent in retail, asked the grocer to provide the service.

    "We were never in a rush to introduce self-checkout," Natale told the newspaper. "We had never seen one we liked or offered features for customer convenience."

    Wegmans chose the Penfield store for the pilot because that is its test lab for front end systems in the Rochester market.

    The IBM self-checkout units feature a touchscreen with voice commands. They accept all forms of payment. Customers who pay with a paper check will be helped by an associate, who will also validate the date of birth of shoppers buying alcohol, Natale said.

    In other Wegmans news, the grocer is closing all of its in-store photo departments, effective Oct. 11, according to published reports. The reason given by Wegmans for the closure is the prevalence of digital photography among consumers.

    Forty-nine stores in total will be affected, but the 173 part-time and 63 full-time employees working at the departments may opt to stay on with the company in different capacities. So far, nine departments have already closed or cut back operations. In addition to its in-store facilities Wegmans operates a central photo-processing lab in Henrietta, N.Y.

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