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Shopping Concept

Changing the Shopping experience
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(+13, -10)
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Certain deficiencies can be identified within current supermarket-type stores:

1. Even for small items, popular items have to be stocked well on the floor to last the day. This wastes room and decreases product offerings.

2. People have to push carts around, causing traffic and necessitating wider pathways.

3. Checkouts are a waste of time.

Possible solution: Customer SKU's (scanners)

Customers are given a scanner when they walk into the store and they do not take carts. They walk around scanning the items that they want to buy. When they are getting scanned, the store detects this through wireless technology and these items in a warehouse adjacent are placed into a shopping cart. The shopper then presses a button or scans in a certain area to let the store know that they are done shopping and would like to review their shopping carts. It is pulled up into a stall and they get to check their shopping cart against a list pulled up on a monitor. They then get to pay for everything right there, no scanning of goods or anything. Credit cards are used and a reciept is spit out, the user can take their cart to their car.

The warehouse adjacent can be automated, so you don't have a bunch of crazy people running around and getting into accidents.

This shopping concept would allow for these improvements:

1. Shopping carts are eliminated. No need to carry one around. This allows for more flexibility in planning rows, product offerings and displays to not needing those bumper systems on the walls.

2. Product width/depth can be expanded. Shelf space used to stock small but popular items can be used to offer different products and even provide product information and advertisment.

3. Shoplifting is mitigated. If there is only one item on the shelf, it is a lot more likely to be noticed to be missing. Also, if items are kept behind glass (still scannable) they cannot be easily stolen.

4. Checkouts severely shortened. Items in cart only need review. Items not wanted can easily be removed and payment is easy and quick.

With a shopping change like this, the whole culture of shopping can be changed. You can have sitting areas, internet cafes, Drive through pickup (you drive up, pop the trunk, they load), and other things that could not happen because of carts. Shopping experiences are better because of a wider selection of products. Energy is saved because you don't have a bunch of people opening the icecream freezers. More money to make and people to please.

twitch, Nov 30 2006

It Lives! http://www.gizmag.com/go/7434/
the handheld scanner part atleast [twitch, Jun 16 2007]


       If people didn't want to personally select their meats and fresh fruits and vegetables then web-based shopping with home delivery probably would be catching on at a more rapid pace. Web-based online e-grocery shopping would address all of your benefit points, and more.
jurist, Nov 30 2006

       Except for the "hey I actually want to get out of my house and interact with people" need. In business studies, the social aspect of shopping is a significant factor.   

       Meats and produce can be in individual bins with barcodes as well. so they can be selected personally.   

       Online grocery shopping not catching on? maybe people like to see what they are buying with their own eyes.
twitch, Nov 30 2006

       A place like this would allow for a children's toy corner where parents can leave their kids and they will be tended to and guarded.
twitch, Nov 30 2006

       That's independent. (Just about any existing WAAAAH!!!! shopping experience can be MOMMEEEE! improved by having a children's corner.)   

       The "bin individual produce" thing doesn't quite work if I want to select the individual apple; once I've selected it, it must be gone. (Maybe there's a slot that I drop the apples into; they get bagged and dispatched to my purchases through a system of pneumatic tubes.)   

       But scannable and portable store sections could be mixed - take a basked, select a few apples at your leisure, chat, and let them hand you the unwieldy, identical, non-perishables at the check-out.   

       Tweaks: Barcode scanning as an interface sucks. Even cashiers who do this all day sometimes need a few attempts. So, I think this may happen locally with widspread RFID use, not before; or just use a web interface. (Easier to find stuff with that, too.)
jutta, Nov 30 2006

       And if I bought 60 items how long would it take your automated system to fill my order along with the other 50+ people in the store.   

       You couldnt scan ice cream without opening the freezer door.   

       You do not eliminate the use of carts if carts are used.   

       Check out time would be the same or worse if you had people sorting through the goods they purchased.   

       Regular stores can have a childrens toy corner as well, in fact the store near my old home in NY had babysitting for shoppers. They also had an internet cafe, grocery pick up and a teenage kid who would park and retreive your car if you liked.   

       Im gonna say I dont like the idea...or did I?
Chefboyrbored, Nov 30 2006

       Despite the obvious problems, I think this could work well, particularly as the "social" aspect to supermarket shopping is fast disappearing anyway.
Mr Phase, Nov 30 2006

       The technical hurdles that are included here involve technology that is already tried and tested. Scanning, automated machines and conveyers fetching products, and even automated checkouts. It is the cultural aspect that is the large hurdle. When shopping carts first came out, the stores had to literally pay customers to use them. Same here.   

       And yes, you might still need the cart to take your food to your car, but inside the supermarket, not anymore. This makes for much more flexible possiblities on interior design and setup. The conveyer system would be fast, with the more popular items closer.   

       As the bathhouse was central to roman culture, this could develop to be a new center in shopping culture, A new place to shop almost effortlessly, turning it from a chore to relaxing downtime. A new place to socialize and gossip.   

       I suppose that another advantage is that with produce, you can be assured that a hundred fingers have not previously touched that apple you are eating, even if you washed it. Less chance for spreading illness/disease.
twitch, Nov 30 2006

       partially baked. At least in Ireland
javajean, Nov 30 2006

       partially baked? I believe the correct term is Half-Baked.   

       This concept = more baked goods available.
twitch, Dec 01 2006

       I dont think this elimnates as much as you think, Product still needs to be unboxed, people still need to walk through the store so the store would still be quite large. The you park a huge warehouse next door. Most stores warehouse their product on the shelves so that their supply area is really nothing more than a staging zone. Most stores stock at night so interference with the customer is minimal. RFID tags are really the wave of the Future for stores, I can still pickout my items and then I just leave when im done, no fuss no muss. This idea seems overly messy and really doesnt seem to improve much over the current system. I dont like it. Sorry.
jhomrighaus, Dec 01 2006

       I didn't say anything about boxes. I didn't say anything about store size (you could make the store smaller if anything). Plus, it's not the size, it's the experience. Not having to push a cart around. Being able to take your time because dear gosh, the icecream won't be melted when you reach the checkout. Having more product width/depth then a regular supermarket. Also, for workers, removing the drudgery of having to stock at night. I still don't totally trust RFID yet. It is easy to block the signal. Easy to fake the signal (I mean, for technical people).   

       I know, this goes against JIT operating sense, but it is an original concept that that solves different issues: less shoplifting, more space, more socializing, less effort, real-time product tracking, more room to sell advertising space, more convenient for the aging population, more clean, more efficient because of automation.
twitch, Dec 01 2006

       /You couldnt scan ice cream without opening the freezer door./ - sheesh! You wouldn't actually need real food for people to look at! It would be empty boxes.   

       This is a fine idea. I like that it could happen immediately.
bungston, Dec 04 2006

       I love it. I agree that the not needing a trolley (the bane of all shopper's existence) would be a huge selling point of this idea.   

       I don't think that RFID would be essential either - barcodes work fine if properly presented (i.e. nice flat surface).   

       You could even get shops within the shopping centre to collaborate, so that there is a single drive-thru pick-up point for your shopping as you leave the car park.
xaviergisz, Dec 04 2006

       In the business sense, many markets want to move towards mass customization, that is, being able to tailor the presentation of the product to appeal most to each individual. It is not feasable to tailor the actual products in this market. What can be done with this level of real-time customer tracking is:   

       Special deals can be tailored to specific customers depending on shopping habits.   

       True consumer habits can be learned and store layout can be refined to increase sales and advertisement exposure.   

       A different kind of employee can be used. All employees are basically customer service agents. Jobs that require drudgery and odd hours will be reduced.   

       There are many other benefits with real-time customer tracking as well as automated warehouses and customer SKU's or scanners.   

       The large hurdle is the culture change.
twitch, Dec 04 2006

       I loathe supermarkets, so you'd think I would like this concept. Just imagine not getting bruised and bashed by all those reckless cart pushers, climbing over the folks trying to restock the shelves and lines for the cash register that back all the way up the aisles. (OK, supermarket shopping in Central London is a law unto itself). But no, I use online shopping for the heavy, bulky dried/canned/paper/cleaning products, and a local market for the fresh stuff. I don't and never did consider going to the supermarket a social experience. And bringing the kids along is such a bad idea, though most people still do it of neccessity. What I don't like about this idea is it has all the drawbacks of online shopping (being removed from the actual goods) with none of its good points (somebody else doing the mindless wandering in the aisles, packing and hauling.
esperance, Dec 05 2006

       // They walk around scanning the items that they want to buy//   

       I think it's hilarious to think that shopping is so ingrained an activity, that we can't break away from the idea of walking around choosing stuff from shelves (which probably harks back to a time when the closest thing to shopping was picking berries from a bush) even when there's nothing tangible on the shelves. It's mindblowingly surreal.   

       As [jurist] (and others) point out you either need to select your produce personally (in the case of fresh items) or you might as well pick from a list - as they already do in Argos (albeit without giving the customers scanners) and, in more recent times, web-based home delivery services.   

       I can't help feeling that this is severely baked, but am so bedazzled by the idea of people shuffling round a completely empty supermarket (let's keep the trolleys too, but have them contain nothing but a small interactive tv display to help shoppers decide what they want) pointing their scanners at labels and going 'beep!' It would make a great scene from a sci-fi movie.   

       What's even funnier is that while the shoppers walk around beeping their choices, behind some partition (or possibly underground) their movements are being electronically mirrored by hundreds of scurrying pseudo-shoppers who are employed to pick the real items, just from different shelves.
zen_tom, Dec 05 2006

       No crazy pseudo shoppers in back. Read it. Automated. Produce would be picked individually. You have to look at what a system like this could give you (or not you, but sellers). It gives them a lot more room to be flexible with how they advertise their products. It allows them to more easily rearrange the store layout. Yes, the infrastructure costs would be a lot more though, but i'm just trying to think future tense here, way future tense. I don't expect this idea to make waves here, where getting out and shopping is not for social interaction. I agree that most people are not like us though.   

       But seeing that the world is become more anti-social with the internet, why this? To stop the world from becoming more anti-social.
twitch, Dec 05 2006

       I initially missed the automated warehouse part - but whether it's peopled by mimimum wagers and assylum seekers, or high-tech robotry, it's still silly. To get a really cost-effective model, you could outsource the work to China or somewhere, and have them do all the shopping, and get it shipped in for next-day delivery.   

       Yet, I agree with the coffee shop concept, or anything where the supermarket experience is replaced with something else, say a pub, or an ice-rink, bowling alley or something completely divorced from the general shopping experience.   

       What I think is weird is that you have a complex system that reproduces the shopping experience (i.e. walking about looking at things on shelves) when it would be far easier to just go to a normal shop (for buyers and sellers alike)   

       So, no bun or bone - I think it's a silly idea, but at the same time, that's kind of why I like it.
zen_tom, Dec 05 2006

       /No crazy pseudo shoppers/   

       Is there any way they could be incorporated, or possibly make a cameo appearance in a different idea?
bungston, Dec 05 2006

       I admit it this idea is way out there. Maybe i'm searching for a hybrid between online marketplaces and brick-and-mortar supermarkets. Basically, this idea is like a HUGE vending machine, albeit one where people can hang out by and relax.
twitch, Dec 05 2006

       There is some potential here but for me I end up shopping after working 12 or 13 hours. I need to be able to see what I have. Having a steak dinner? Do I have my vegetable, garlic bread, did I grab a carton of milk or just look at it as I went by. The potential I see is the Internet shopping/other activity [zen_tom] brought up. People in the states are not going to go to a store like this they won't want to change. However if this was offered as an option at a normal store it might catch on. I have to add I liked the Internet grocery enough that I lost allot of money in WebVan.
pydor, Dec 06 2006

       nice one....[+] for the idea, but dont you think its a little out-dated? Internet grocey shopping has arrived my friend.
shinobi, Dec 06 2006

       Well then we'll have to find another way to get people out of their houses won't we.
twitch, Dec 06 2006

       Y'know, [twitch], I'm tempted to tell you to start taking walks around your neighborhood. You may be surprised to find that visiting your local grocery --albeit a bachelor cliche-- isn't the only way to "get out of the house" and occasionally meet people who have similar backgrounds, circumstances, and goals to your own.
jurist, Dec 06 2006

       I'm sorry [jurist] but I live on a delta. I have a few neighbors but they are family. I realize that there are different ways to socialize but I am working with a basic human need: food. Everybody needs it. It used to be that people absolutely needed to go to the market but not anymore.   

       With the internet, communities are becoming less and less geographically based. I can't say what the outcome of this condition will be. We'll just have to wait and see.
twitch, Dec 06 2006

       Seems entirely possible to me. To address some of the problems stated:   

       Each scanner provides a screen with a list of all items scanned so far. A simple interface would allow you to remove items that were later deemed unneccesary (you already scanned the bag of flour, then realized you still had some at the house- "BEEP!" it's gone, no need to return to that isle).   

       The store could still have a traditional section for meats and veggies where you still pick the ones you want.   

       Have a large open drive-through structure (like a quick service oil-change place) where your groceries are delivered to you. Any produce you selected earlier can be carried by you or in a small handheld basket, still no need for carts.   

       Automated warehouses can be built much taller that regular supermarkets, and a market with only one of each good sold would take up far less space, with narrower isles and center sections, most likely making up the difference of having another warehouse out back.   

       I like it. You still get the social interaction of shopping, but without all the in-store collisions with 6 year olds crazily pushing carts around like crazy pseudo shoppers. Have a bun.
Hunter79764, Dec 06 2006

       The problem with the warehouse is that you generally dont buy a Case of something you buy 1 of something so everything will need to be unboxed and your automated system will need to be able to manipulate a nearly infinite variety of different packaging, of different shapes, sizes weights, dimensions, materials etc. This is not a little hurdle to overcome. These issues would preclude a condensed type of warehouse.
jhomrighaus, Dec 06 2006

       //take up far less space, with narrower isles and center sections//   

       Next time you are at a store take a close look at whats going on, you would still need sufficient space in each aisle for 2-3 people to walk abreast(remember people may need to squat to see low items or step back to see high ones) Rows could be shorter but you would still need space for each item to occupy. The Shelves would not be as deep as a conventional store. The checkout would need to be pretty much the same size as checkout will not be much faster(need to check that you got the right stuff and pay) You would still need a cart to get the stuff to your car, you would be adding coffee shops etc. as well so your space savings might work out to 25 to 30 percent in the store(essentially empty space is a much bigger percentage of a store than the mechandise) The ware house would need to have access ways for the robot pickers(there would need to be many of them at least as many as there are shoppers) and you would need access for the robots and the people stocking the shelves(//drudgery and odd hours will be reduced//otherwise the people will need to work late)even a multi story warehouse will be bigger than the space saved in the store proper.
jhomrighaus, Dec 06 2006

       The hurdles of an automated warehouse are not as large as they may seem. Delivering goods into an "up-side-down pez-like device" can be done anytime and could be done at any time. After watching so many hous of discovery channel, the hurdles of automation are actually small. Also, because they are automated, going vertical is easier, just like the cargo holding area in the new Hong Kong airport, almost purely vertical (featured on discovery channel). Figuring out how to make adjustments to an automated system to accomodate many sizes and types of packages is not a hard task, It is almost purely a mechanical challenge, that's it (for some this is no challenge at all). //Robot Pickers//?? Use conveyers, If you saw the episode on discovery about package handling in Fed Ex, this would help you see how easy it could be. No need for robot pickers.   

       The purpose of the .. coffee shops and kid corners etc. is to keep the customer inside the store for as long as possible and to expand on the culture of supermarkets. Business wise, this is .. wise.   

       People would still have to stock the warehouse, but you have eliminated 2 processes from the store: storing goods on a warehouse floor, and stocking onto shelves in isles. All that is needed is to load items into most likely a gravity fed system.   

       With the elimination of carts INSIDE THE STORE, where and how you setup the checkout stands becomes much more flexible. If you can trust that all the items are present and undamaged in an internet order, why assume less here? Just get genius (adj.) with it.   

       Obviously, the system that other people see in their head is a lot less compact and less efficient than what I have in my head.
twitch, Dec 06 2006

       Google webvan they had all the automation and the software needed.
pydor, Dec 07 2006

       One of the things that made me stop using on-line shopping is the fact that they always give you the stuff with the shortest best before date. This makes great sense for stock control but not for me.   

       For example, I want to buy some steak. I know I will probab ly eat it in three days time. If the date is tomorrow, I will either find another from the back of the shelf that has a later date or skip that product and perhaps buy some chicken instead. When I order online, everything seems to have a date one or two days away and I am forced to freeze the food needlessly, which often results in not enough room in the fre freezer but an empty fridge.   

       This idea ia indeed all the hassle of shopping combined with all the hassle of on-line shopping. [-]
webfishrune, Dec 07 2006

       [twitch]: Did I comment on this idea (and you delete it)?
Or did I type in my anno, only to forget to click the 'ok' button...?

       Either way, my comments were valid: It's Internet shopping but without the Internet and has siminlar advantages and disadvantages: Quick and easy, reduced load at check out time, but no opportunity for customers to choose items based on their immediate quality: "these apples are juicy; those bananas are off".   

       That isn't a criticism - many folks use Internet shopping; but have to wait for delivery. This is effectively the same, but with opportunity to pick up shopping immediately.
Jinbish, Dec 07 2006

       //Ya just had to double-bone it, didn't you, Web?//   

       Typo, sorry! ammended.
webfishrune, Dec 07 2006

       [jinbish], you not only get to pick it up immediately, you get to inspect and reject/ re-request. And no I didn't delete you anno. People, other things must change as well... Problems with the system can be solved quite easily. Problems with the concept, that's the main discussion here. Assume that the mechanical problems that are possibly involved all went away.
twitch, Dec 07 2006

       //you get to inspect and reject/ re-request//   

       Of course, I'd expect the normal right of return, but that's the point. The system could get clunky if you start getting larger numbers of people requesting exchanges or different products.   

       The danger is then that the advantages of speed of shopping are outweighed by folks asking for exchanges.   

       (P.S. I genuinely couldn't remember if I'd anno'd before: but I did type out a response)
Jinbish, Dec 07 2006

       //Problems with the concept, that's the main discussion here. Assume that the mechanical problems that are possibly involved all went away.//   

       Well if you take out the mechanical considerations your idea is to have a store where you go and look at items that you might want to buy, pick the ones you want, collect them in a cart, pay for them and then take them home.   

       Sounds an awful lot like what I did last night at the grocery store.
jhomrighaus, Dec 07 2006

       Let the products that are perishable be hand-selected. All other items that are uniform (such as cans of soup and a box of cereal) be selected by automation. This should solve the rejection problem. And, maybe you could hire a guy that inspects all the products going out, and pick out the damaged goods.   

       I am not only thinking about the convenience to the consumer, I am thinking also about the potential store owner. I wouldn't be pitching to consumers, but store owners. It gives them greater profit potential and many other benefits over conventional supermarkets.
twitch, Dec 07 2006

       //I wouldn't be pitching to consumers, but store owners. It gives them greater profit potential and many other benefits over conventional supermarkets//   

jhomrighaus, Dec 07 2006

       - More space for flexible advertising   

       - Less man power needed from automation, less drudgery jobs   

       - Real time consumer and products tracking   

       - Deals tailored to specific customers advertised directly to them   

       - More profitable advertising because people are encouraged to shop longer   

       - Product lines are deeper and wider (more variety)   

       - No rushing because icecream or milk might get warm   

       - Easier for senior citizens to shop (THE target market)   

       - drive-thru pickup possible   

       These are some that I can think of now.. I'm sure there are more.
twitch, Dec 07 2006

       It's finally happening.. My idea is coming to fruition, although not by me.   

       See Link.
twitch, Jun 16 2007

       //Shopping experiences are better because of a wider selection of products.//   

       I'd like to hear you say that when you are trying to buy garbage bags and the garbage bag aisle is 40 meters long, two meters high and tightly packed with hundreds of brightly packed and misleadingly labeled products.   

       //More money to make//   

       A bone for anything that furthers corporate interests, especially if at the expense of humanity or the local economy. [-]
nuclear hobo, Jun 16 2007

       I guess many people relate making lots of money to corporations... They are self interested, as we all are. And just how local are you talking about? do you mean within that country or that community? Why would you have such a large garbage bag isle? this idea reduces isle size. It can allow for a large amount of flexibility, whether a store wants to expand their product depth, or if they want to adjust the shopping environment to include.. a park? like i said, it allows for creativity and flexibility.   

       And I went shopping at walmart today. Yeah, i'm supporting them in the end... but when you have to pay over 550,000 dollars (the average is more) for a 3 bedroom house, how am I supposed to afford anything else? Or I could rent a studio for about $950/month.   

       Or I could just sell drugs.
twitch, Jun 17 2007

       Very good idea!
can1073, Dec 04 2007


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