Supermarket Smart Cart

Supermarket Smart Cart

We ‘check out’ latest supermarket ‘smart’ cart.

Phil Lempert (The Supermarket Guru) test-drives the Stop & Shop’s “Shopping Buddy”, a grocery chain’s attempt to eliminate the annoying check-out line.

It’s a fact : most supermarket shoppers love going to the supermarket — finding new products, tasting free samples and finding bargains – spending money.

But then it comes time to check out….

Having enjoyed the displays and the picking-out of items, they are then faced with the task of taking their selections, putting them on a conveyor and then putting them back in their cart.

And, usually, of having to wait in line for such a dubious privilege.

Yes, dealing with the supermarket check-out line — including the horror of having kids screaming for the candy “conveniently” placed there by profit-hungry conglomerates — is among the least popular chores, according to many surveys. And while many supermarkets have installed “self-checkout” lanes, only a third of consumers, according to a ACNielsen Homescan (the global leader in market research, information and analysis.) consumer panel of over 61,000 Americans, believe this kind of help-yourself method is no way near a solution.

Plainly, supermarkets need to figure out better ways to check out. And many of them are trying to come up with an answer.

One chain in particular, Stop & Shop, a chain based in the Boston area, is seeking to change the whole way we shop for groceries — including the dreaded check-out lane.

To find out more, I traveled to Braintree, Mass., to, um, check out Stop & Shop’s Shopping Buddy. I also looked at IBM’s Everywhere Display, a new in-store tool for marketing products to consumers.

The Shopping Buddy

Shopping Buddy can help you organize your shopping trip and save money! The Shopping Buddy is a small tablet that you activate with your Stop & Shop card. Once activated, the Shopping Buddy displays your personal savings coupons and shopping history by aisle, based on your location. It’s easy to see the things that you normally buy that are on sale in each aisle. You can also use Buddy to:

* Keep a running total of today’s purchases
* Order deli without waiting in line
* Scan and bag your items as you shop for quick checkout

Shopping Buddy is only available in the Braintree, Quincy Southern Artery, Kingston and Plymouth Massachusetts stores.

The IBM Everywhere Display

This transforms any surface into a virtual interactive touch screen computer. Next to an item on the grocery store shelf the Everywhere Display can give you information about the item including videos and web based information. It can tell you if an item is in stock and if not you can then and there place a special order for it. Of course, promotional savings are attached to these displays as well.
So, when will every store in America be as easy and fun to shop?

The Shopping Buddy is available in 20 stores in New England now and we will see another 150 installations in both Stop & Shop and its sister chain Giant (Washington DC area) by the end of 2005.