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The Hi-Tech Deli Counter

A new scale will turn one of the most annoying shopping tasks - waiting in line at the meat counter - into one of the most interesting
By TechIsrael Staff
First Publish: 11/29/2011, 10:54 PM

SC1000 Scale
SC1000 Scale
Shekel Scales/Ziv-Av Engineering

Don't look now – but the deli counter is about to go digital! Studies show that customers “waste” 5 to 12 minutes on average per visit to the supermarket, waiting for their orders at the deli, cheese, or meat counter to be filled. For customers, it's a waste of time, since there's no more boring or frustrating experience at the market than “waiting for your number” to come up. For stores, it's a missed marketing opportunity; when customers are waiting, they're not shopping, which means that they're likely to have less merchandise when they get to the checkout line.

But all that is about to change, thanks to a groundbreaking product by Shekel Electronic Scales, Israel's biggest maker of commercial and medical scales, and in fact one of the leading scale makers in the world. A new interactive scale will display not only the weight and cost of the product the customer is buying – it will also display ads related to the items that the customer ordered. Those ads are visible not only to the current customer – but to all customers waiting on line.

The ads are customized for each product the customer orders – so they're different every time, piquing the customers' interest, and guaranteeing that they will be watching to see “what comes next.” Thus, if the customer is ordering hummus at the deli counter, the store can display an ad or incentive to encourage customers to buy pita, pickles, and hot dogs – turning the buying experience from boring to interesting for the customer, and profitable for the store!

The SC1000 (one of Shekel's “Business Intelligence Scale” line) is the first hi-tech supermarket scale in the world, says Shekel Scales sales manager Fernando Gross. “If you consider the way deli, meat and cheese counters are set up, you have maybe 15 scales set up along 40 meters of counter space. Thus we get an especially strong and effective advertising platform. We are the first ones to take advantage of this platform,” Gross said.

Of course, to pull this off, the scale needs to be networked and connected to a central server – that of the store or the chain. Managers can easily update the system themselves, without the need for a dedicated technician. The scale was designed with help from Ziv-Av Engineering, an Israeli firm noted for its original and innovative technology and ideas (the design supervisor for Ziv-Av was Gilly Bricks).

And since the scales are part of a local network, with the deals transmitted from a central server, those deals can also be transmitted to other devices – like customer's smartphones, with the system SMSing them deals while they're at the deli or meat counter. “For the first time, manufacturers and distributors of unpackaged products – cheese, meat, cold cuts, salads, etc. that are sold at the deli counter – have the opportunity to reach customers with deals about their specific brands,” says Gross; until now, that lack of package (which gives customers a way to identify the product by brand, instead of generically) has stood in the way of advertising efforts by makers of these products. “We expect this scale to generate great interest, both in Israel and abroad,” says Gross. Thanks to Shekel Scales and Ziv-Av Engineering, waiting for your number to come up just got very interesting!