Online Shopping From Aisle Four

from the who-needs-it? dept

I keep hearing people talk about various in store shopping solutions that are supposed to take the best of web-based shopping and bring it into a brick-and-mortar environment. For example, there’s this new tablet PC you hook to your shopping cart in the grocery store, and swipe your “frequent buyer” (or whatever they’re called) cards through. The machine will then display the items you buy regularly, including a map. Of course, if you shop like I do, you already know exactly where your frequently bought items are, and it would probably take more time to get the tablet set up than to just go pick up my usual items. The article also points out just how expensive these devices are – but leaves out one very important factor: maintenance. People bang around shopping carts without much sympathy, and they don’t really care how expensive such computers are. I remember, years ago, when they experimented with putting calculators on shopping carts. I don’t think I ever saw a working one. They were all broken, and all smashed up. I imagine the exact same thing will happen with these tablets… making it much more difficult for the stores to get any sort of return. Down the road, when people are more likely to be carrying wireless devices with location-based info included, it might make sense to offer an application that people can use themselves. However, the store-owned solution seems destined to be a pretty expensive failure.

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Comments on “Online Shopping From Aisle Four”

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August Jackson (user link) says:

A thought about where this might be useful...

I agree with Mike’s post that a tablet PC with a map is probably not the most useful thing to have in the grocery store where you shop frequently.

One type of store where I do find myself wishing for some sort of interactive map is in home improvement stores like Home Depot or Lowes. I don’t go to these stores nearely as frequently as I go to the grocery store, and I am very rarely buying the same things I bought when I was there last. Being able to pick out the items I’m looking for on a tablet that will then tell me where in the store these items are located would be a great time saver.

Or I could always just go ask someone, as I usually end up doing, anyway. Perhaps the tablet would simply be a vehicle to salvage my male ego in that regard.

Chris (user link) says:

No Subject Given

When I was in grad school(1992) we analysized a company that was putting screens on shopping carts. They would pop up coupons as you passed certain items and by pushing a button you would “get” the coupon and it would automatically apply when you checked out. It also contained a map, etc. However, the really interesting thing was all the data the stores were collecting on the backend -to the second how much time you spent at any part of the store, the route you took through the store, etc. The screens also served as anti-theft devices by causing an alarm instore if they got out of range. I never really saw the big benefit to consumers, but the data the stores were collecting was amazing. The company was way undercapitalized and ceased to exist shortly after we delivered our analysis of their business.

Anonymous Coward says:

No Subject Given

Stop and Shop briefly had up a site called . It would show you your recent purchases and would also allow you to check out alternative items based on your selection of things such as ‘less fat’, ‘less sodium’, ‘cheaper’, etc. It was a freaking great site. To bad it went away.

What would have been a nice mix would have been to add the mapping feature into the web site so you could print it out and take it with you. Or in my case, give it to my wife when she does the shopping (like once every 6 to 9 months) …. she doesn’t know where things are located so this would be beneficial.

Ahold … are you still listening or are you too busy fending off law suites ?

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