Almost all products sold through retail outlets have barcodes. This idea is a system that makes life easier, uses existing data infrastructure and pays for itself.
Phase I - Roll-out
An electronic device (mobile phone, PDA or store-supplied dedicated scanner) can be used to scan and gather
barcodes in stores. You go to the checkout without a trolley. You download your shopping into the register, pay and the products are loaded from inventory, bagged (and/or delivered) and restocked automatically.
The store can carry fewer items on the shelves, and reduces inventory, labour, rental and shoptheft. Consumers avoid wibbly-wobble trolleys, melted ice-cream, check-out delays and still get their in-store shopping experience.
Also, the concept handles mixed-format shopping. If the consumer wants to select a particular product item, like a melon or even 112g of sliced salami, he/she can use a pre-programmed scale with a barcode printer.
Phase II - Once bar-code shopping culture is established
Everybody can gather barcodes while out shopping, on the internet, in the doorway of their refrigerator, or whatever. They download their barcode devices at home into their PC, sort items into categories, prioritize and budget.
Barcode websites act as clearing houses. On-line retailers can automatically bid to fill orders. This reduces overhead and working capital costs and provides an alternative channel for retailers to clear inventory.
Not everything on the barcode list needs to be bought at once. Lower priority items can be moved to public or private wish-lists. No more month-end blues. No more what do I buy for Uncle Ted dilemmas.
The clearing web-site makes its money from thin margins, subsidised by super-conventient and highly-targeted advertising. "Hey I see you have a basic B&D power drill on your list. You bought a heavy picture frame yesterday. wouldn't you rather buy a model with a hammer-action? Homebase offers one for a similar price."