Home Checkout - with No Lines

Location, location, location is the mantra behind one company's effort to place its wares on America's kitchen counters. HomeAccess International, a maker of Web devices, has designed a telephone-complete with screen, bar-code scanner and keyboard-that provides its users with a direct connection to local merchants. Albertson's Inc., the country's second-largest supermarket chain, is one of the first companies to distribute the devices to its customers (for free). The company envisions home shoppers waving items (cereal boxes, cans of lima beans) in front of the bar-code scanner, which will automatically add them to an electronic grocery list. Shoppers can then use the device's screen and keyboard to order other provisions from the Albertson's product catalog. Albertson's will even deliver orders for free (if they're greater than $60).

HomeAccess is connecting its devices to neighborhood stores, like supermarkets, that people frequent. "When you look at where consumers spend their money, over 80 percent of purchases take place within a 5- to 10-mile radius of their home," explains HomeAccess COO Mark DiCamillo. "We aren't trying to change how [people] live, just make it more convenient for them."

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