Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Idea time: supermarket navigation

This idea is from early 2008.

I'm a man and am not too fond of shopping for groceries etc, I can't seem to find my way in supermarkets.

I feel like this mouse:

Compared to me, my wife finds exactly what she needs like lightning:

I admit, it's a deficiency, and with time and energy I could probably get a little better at it, but finding all items on the groceries list in supermarkets is certainly not one of my talents. Stereotypes dictate that women feel the same about navigation in cars. For the benefit of these women (and in reality for most men as well) we have invented personal navigation devices (PND's). Enter your destination, follow some simple steps, arrive. Unless you are on a road-trip, it's getting to the destination that matters, the journey itself does not.

One navigation problem down, one too go, I still can't find my way in supermarkets. I was craving for an ancient grocery store where I could tell the clerk: Good sir, I need dinner but am too poor to go out eating, please provide me with some ingredients that match my appetite and budget. These stores are rare and probably expensive.

In comes the navigation device. Back in 2008 I thought, let's mount a PND to a shopping cart. Now, in 2011, I'd say: just make an app. Whichever you would use, the interface could be outlined like this:
- [optional] make a shopping list on the store's (mobile) website
- go to the store
- present your credentials to the pnd/app
- fetch your shopping list
- offer the user to select a meal and put all the ingredients on the shopping list
- show the shortest route through the supermarket to get all the items

The benefits for the user should be clear, the benefits for the supermarket as well. They can manage their inventories better (in one hour, 400 people are going to buy turkey stuffing and we are almost out!), they can detect trends, do customer profiling etc..

Privacy is an issue of course, but that's not my problem ;)