Digital Grocery Shopping

LCD Price TagOur local grocery store uses digital price tags on the shelves for all products. These tags update wirelessly whenever the prices change. They even start blinking when the product is on sale. This reduces the likelihood that the price I pay at the register will differ from what is displayed on the shelf. Labeling systems like this are great for the store, but only slightly help us as consumers.

Each weekend we shop for the week. By sheer happenstance there are three grocery stores on our circle route. What we pick up at each is determined by price when multiple stores have the item or by availability when a product is only available at one store. In the case of price, the cheaper store often changes from month to month. Similarly, unique items tend to move around. The desire would be to post our shopping list, then get back availability and price from the stores we visit. This way we would know which items to pick up where. It would also be a great chance for the store to tell us where each item is since rotating product location is a popular game they play.

In return for my information, the stores would learn more about what we are looking for over time as well. As we submitted our list to the various stores, they would be able to augment the results with alerts that items purchased in the past where now back in stock or in season, or to alert us to sales items of interest. Also, they would have a chance to broaden our horizons by pointing out that while they did not have item A, their item B would probably meet our needs as well.

If we are preplanning our shopping experience then an obvious extension would be to place our order online at each store, and then just go pick it up. Alternatively, a third-party delivery service could take care of picking up the items and delivering them. Avoiding the grocery shopping all together would free up more time on the weekend.

For stores that continue to desire my presence in their store, then virtual shopping would be an experience they could provide. They have all those cameras around the store which could do double duty in helping me pick out individual products to add to my virtual shopping cart. I get to avoid going into the store, and they can still expose me to the in-astore displays as I virtually traverse the aisles.

If the store’s prices are already digitized, and the tags are located with the products then it isn’t much of a stretch to figure they can provide information on item locations. And knowing what items they have for sale is covered as well. While the product information is already available to the store, the next step is making it available to the consumer in a convenient manner. Preferably in a way which allows for comparative shopping.

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