I keep seeing products designed to help people keep track of food they have and items they need from the grocery store. Eventually, these products all have a business model that involves showing ads or printing coupons from the device. Seems reasonable. The latest one allows users to voice input information to add to the shopping list.
If this type of technology is to ge serious it needs to be a seemless web connected service that can collect information in a variety of places from a variety of sources and output that information to the user at the time of need.
Here's how I would see the grocery list service working.
Solve Data Collection: Develop Wifi enabled networked barcode readers that attach to trash cans in the home. Users consuming food, healthcare or other merchandise scan the barcodes from packaging as it is discarded. This information is added to users shopping lists maintained on their home computers. Don't want or need a product replaced, don't scan it when discarding it.
Data Management: On your home computer users see a list of products that have been consumed in the household. For advanced users household inventories are possible by downloading purchase records from the central service, scanning special format paper receipts, or scanning products when they arrive in the home. Shopping lists can be the basis of online ordering.
Data Delivery: Users can request that their shopping lists be available for download into mobile devices. This enables users to download their current shopping needs when they are entering the grocery store. No more forgotten lists.
Here's how the system looks in the real world.
Susan is a busy executive with three growing teenagers. She was frustrated with keeping food and other necessities in the house as the kids kept eating and eating everything in site. Susan installed the List-o-matic system to help her with grocery management. She impressed upon the kids to use the system or she wouldn't be buying their favorite foods. Beyond that the system kept track of who was using it and provided discounts on products the kids liked as incentive to use the system.
Each person in the home pushed a different button on the readers whenever they scanned a product needing replenishment. Susan found this helpful information so she could see the consumption patterns of her kids. The kids liked it because among other things they could automatically enter contests for their favorite soda. The system interfaced with the soda company website and automatically delivered their contest profile and product information to the contest interface.
Susan could check to see what food items she had on hand before she left the office. Noticing that her husband had scanned the last package of toilet tissue this morning she decided she had better stop at the store on her way home tonight. Susan printed a shopping list but quickly forgot it on her desktop printer as she left the office. Not to worry she can download it again at the store since the store fully supported the List-o-matic system.
At the store Susan could use her mobile phone to access her latest list but instead she used the cart based terminal. She preferred the larger screen display and the custom store optimization . The cart terminal used the store's Wifi network to connect to the List-o-matic service and download Susan's list information. The list was automatically arranged to the layout of the store. Susan's route through the store was optimised and step by step directions were given to her. At each turn Susan had the opportunity to see discount offers for competing or companion products. Buy a bunch of cereal get a discount for milk. Nice.
Susan was glad she had set the auto-update option for the system because she noticed that a few items had been added to the list between her last viewing at the office and her version on the cart monitor. Turns out the kids had arrived home and finished off a few food items and the last three bottles of soda. No problem, Susan had them in the cart in no time. Check out at the store was not a problem as Susan had scanned the bar-code of each item she purchased as she loaded the cart. Her account was debited and a helpful store employee helped her load her car.
Once home she accepted the inventory update email on her home system. The system reset the home inventories and waited until more products were disposed of and added to the list.
As you an imagine there are plenty of places in a system like this that would allow the system vendor or third parties to insert revenue models and system add ons. Privacy concerns? No more than those already a part of existing systems. Protections and opt out could be built into the system. With proper incentives users could be encouraged to make their information and transaction information available to marketers in new and useful ways.
Grocery Store Technology
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