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Change at the Checkout: Tracing the Impact of a Process Innovation

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Abstract

Barcode scanners, introduced in the early 1970s, were a foundational process innovation in the grocery supply chain. By 1984 scanners had been installed in 10% of food stores in the U.S. Difference-in-difference analysis of city-level price data shows that scanners reduced prices of groceries by about 1.4% in their first decade. The results are consistent with prior estimates of labor saving by scanners and better information available to stores. Early adopters and adopters in states that imposed fewer restrictions on complementary process innovations contributed disproportionately to the price decreases.

Suggested Citation

  • Emek Basker, 2013. "Change at the Checkout: Tracing the Impact of a Process Innovation," Working Papers 1302, Department of Economics, University of Missouri, revised 25 Jun 2013.
  • Handle: RePEc:umc:wpaper:1302
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    Cited by:

    1. Florin Maican & Matilda Orth, 2017. "Productivity Dynamics and the Role of ‘Big-Box’ Entrants in Retailing," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 65(2), pages 397-438, June.
    2. Soetevent, Adriaan R. & Bružikas, Tadas, 2018. "The impact of process innovation on prices: Evidence from automated fuel retailing in The Netherlands," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 110(C), pages 181-196.
    3. Francine Lafontaine & Jagadeesh Sivadasan, 2020. "The Recent Evolution of Physical Retail Markets: Online Retailing, Big Box Stores, and the Rise of Restaurants," NBER Chapters, in: The Role of Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Economic Growth, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Gray, Rowena & Montresor, Giulia & Wright, Greg C., 2020. "Processing immigration shocks: Firm responses on the innovation margin," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 126(C).
    5. Maican, Florin & Orth, Matilda, 2018. "Inventory Behavior, Demand, and Productivity in Retail," CEPR Discussion Papers 13308, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    6. Peter Mayerhofer & Peter Huber & Dieter Pennerstorfer, 2017. "Handel und Einzelhandel im Wiener Beschäftigungssystem. Arbeitsmarktrelevanz, Arbeitsplatzcharakteristika, absehbare Herausforderungen," WIFO Studies, WIFO, number 61951, February.
    7. Maican, Florin & Orth, Matilda, 2018. "Determinants of Economies of Scope in Retail," Working Paper Series 1247, Research Institute of Industrial Economics, revised 11 Jul 2020.
    8. Levy, Daniel, 2013. "Discussion of "Change at the Checkout: Tracing the Impact of a Process Innovation" by Emek Basker," MPRA Paper 52605, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    baretail; supermarkets; prices; technology; Process Innovation; barcode scanners;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • L81 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Retail and Wholesale Trade; e-Commerce
    • D22 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Firm Behavior: Empirical Analysis
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes

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