Shopping Is a Pleasure
Our family does most of its grocery shopping at Publix. The store's motto is "Where Shopping is a Pleasure." Now I don't mean to be negative, but I have a hard time believing that shopping can ever be a pleasure. I shop to buy something; I find it, select it, pay for it, and take it home. End of story.
If you were to ask me (and you are) what I find most troublesome about shopping it would go like this: First, I've got to find it. I don't know what aisle it is in, I don't know where it is in the aisle, I don't know what shelf it is on (except that the cheapest stuff is on the bottom shelf), and I don't know what size product I want (naturally, I was told by someone else to do the shopping).
I notice a placard at the top of the shelf section. It says that if I find the same product at a different store Publix will accept that price, and even give you a bit by way of apology. I wonder: Should I go to the grocery store down the street to check on some prices? Of course not -- driving a car costs 15 cents per mile, and no way could I ever recoup any loss.
Then I have to check out. Which checkout line? The one that limits a person to 10 items? Count. Or the line with 6 people lined up? I pick the 10-item line, hoping that the 2 cans of identical soup will count as 1
The person in line 2 places in front of me has an item without a bar code; that takes extra time. The person directly in front of me has at least 14 items in the basket. I turn to the person behind me for some comfort. No comfort there -- she is reading one of the tabloid newspapers.
So, what's the point? The point is that there are certain aggravations at the grocery store that are probably common to all of us. Might there be a way to improve things?
Yes, there might be.
One solution revolves around the ever-present smartphone. Not so incidentally, we should recognize that the smartphone is considered to be a necessity by the younger generation. And when the younger generation grows up they are going to have to do the shopping too. So let's plan for it now.
In Massachusetts, tests are being run whereby a shopper will, with the camera on his or her smartphone, scan the bar code of a product before putting the item in the shopping cart. It is said that this will save 12% of the checkout effort. Of course, the store could also embed an RFI chip in each product, and a reader would take care of the whole process during checkout. Maybe some day -- but the RFI chips still cost about 5 cents each.
Online shopping is being tested in dozens of stores. We all know people who regularly check the status of the stock market. Why not check the latest sale at the grocery store, and buy online?
An even simpler time-saving application is geolocation. Identify the desired product (e.g., canned soup) and the app on the smartphone will identify the appropriate aisle and shelf. I'll no longer have to chase from one end of the store to the other wondering what ever happened to flour.
I know I'll still have to stand in the checkout line. I'll do my best to limit purchases so I can stand in the 10-item one. And I know that the person in front of me will still have 14 items in the shopping cart. And I'll continue to hope that the checkout clerk will smile, and ask, "Which 10 items would you like me to ring up?" But I suppose that's wishful thinking.
What’s your take on this subject? Leave a comment and get the conversation going.