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Technology

High-Tech Shopping Carts 288

neutron_p writes "A Massachusetts-based supermarket chain says it will roll out new intelligent shopping carts that promise to make food shopping much more personalized and interactive. They will let shoppers email their shopping lists to the store and check prices on the spot. Each new 'Shopping Buddy' cart mounts a wireless, touch-screen IBM computer, equipped with a laser scanner. The computer will also alert shoppers as they approach favorite items or promotions."
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High-Tech Shopping Carts

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 17, 2004 @01:04AM (#10548771)
    . . . gives the shopper such features as: The shopper's buying history and favorites . . . Notification of favorite items as the shopper approaches those items in the aisle . . . The ability to locate particular items in the store . . . The ability to keep a running total of items in the cart . . .
    Give me a break, I already have this--it's called a wife! :D

    [BA-DA-BUM!]

    I'll be here all night!
  • and find another store that doesn't have takling door and talking carts.

    Where is my towel?

    • They will be used partly like Clippy or Bonsai Buddy...

      "You seem to be heading towards our towel section. Please check our our monthly specials on bathroom rugs"

      OTOH, this could be quite useful if it was used as an information service rather than a marketing oportunity. For exmaple: Can't find an item? Have the shopping cart locate it for you! Want to know what the specials are in a given department? Look them up on your shopping card...

      This sort of thing could be really useful, but I dread having a talking paperclip appear and say
      "You appear to be writing a letter. May I suggest that you buy our envelopes?. Also we have paper on isle 4 and postage stamps at the register"
    • and pulls out a shotgun, I'm sure that the cart will give a helpful warning [basementarcade.com], and then after they blow the cart away, the PA system will inform everyone. [basementarcade.com]
  • How about.. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 17, 2004 @01:06AM (#10548784)
    Alerting the homeless person who just stole the cart when they are coming upon an empty cardboard box.
  • I thought we already had those.

    Oh.. Wait.
  • by freeze128 ( 544774 ) on Sunday October 17, 2004 @01:07AM (#10548794)
    ...and yet they still can't make them go straight when you push 'em.
    • Actually, I think that point gives a clue about why this is likely to fail. Well, I hate to say fail because it will likely find a strong niche somewhere, but it won't be widely adopted anytime soon.

      This is very complex and fragile technology that they want stores to implement, generally the very same stores that won't bother to give their equipment a little maintainance, such as replacing a caster, straightening out bent tubes or squirting a bit of oil in the bearings. Grocery stores are often riding on
      • You know what would really be useful on shopping carts? Calculators.

        It wouldn't even have to be good ones. If they duct taped $1 solar calculators to them, people could use them to figure out price per volume, how much they're paying, etc.

        They're not fragile, and probably one of the more directly useful (without any specialization towards grocery stores, that is) pieces of technology for grocery store use.

        I've lived in the Midwest US, and the SouthEast, and I can tell you that there are no major chains
        • Re:Take it further (Score:5, Insightful)

          by polecat_redux ( 779887 ) <spamwich@gUMLAUTmail.com minus punct> on Sunday October 17, 2004 @02:38AM (#10549030)
          You know what would really be useful on shopping carts? Calculators.

          Even better, barcode scanners that read out the price of each item in your cart and keep a running total. It'd be nice to catch the pricing "errors" before you get the the checkout stand.
          • Notice how most of the pricing errors are in the stores favor? Kind of like the way TELCO's never make a billing mistake in your favor?

            They will never do it.
            • When do you mention a pricing error in your favor?

              As a person who used to work at a convenience store in college and ran inventory, I guess I just know better.

              As for "in their favor", that's why most stores don't tag everything individually anymore. Besides the obvious labor cost (especially when you want to re-price), you be the guy on the other end arguing with 10+ customers a day about price tags, especially when you know damn well 6 or 7 of them swapped tags to save 20 cents. I'm sorry, but not everyo
          • Even better, barcode scanners that read out the price of each item in your cart and keep a running total. It'd be nice to catch the pricing "errors" before you get the the checkout stand.

            They are already employed here in Belgium; you can pick up your barcode scanner and scan in all your items while your shop. On checkout the computer reads your total from the scanner, and you pay for whatever you've scanned. A "random check" is generated by the computer so you never know when your items are scanned in at


        • I believe that in the UK, some supermarkets
          (maybe all?) have "Price per 100g" (where relevant) to allow customers to compare the 825g packet to the 525g packet or brands who don't match sizes (440g vs 400g, etc).

          I found it quite useful when I was over there.

          From time to time, I will use my phone calculator to check the best deal.

          • I believe that in the UK, some supermarkets (maybe all?) have "Price per 100g" (where relevant) to allow customers to compare the 825g packet to the 525g packet or brands who don't match sizes (440g vs 400g, etc).

            Yes, we have those and they're very useful. Not perfect though - watch them shift quantities sometimes from packet to packet - e.g. one says £1.49 per 150g and another £2.12 per 250g. Fortunately, I learnt to calculate this sort of thing rapidly in my head during my student days. E
          • I don't know if it's required but most bulk/bag/produce areas do this in the states.
        • Never happen, because people would buy less. It would negate the wonderful psychological tricks they've taken years to perfect, such as $X.95 prices and putting the high-price objects at shoulder height and at the bottom.
  • Technology run amuck. It makes life easier until it makes us our slaves
    • Re:duh (Score:5, Insightful)

      by metlin ( 258108 ) * on Sunday October 17, 2004 @01:20AM (#10548837) Journal
      First off, I'm a HCI major, and I've worked on designing human factors related stuff.

      Now, leave everything else - this is simply pointless.

      When I go shopping, I just go shopping. I would not bother making a list, e-mailing it them and what not. They forget the human-factors part of it - people will not go to the lengths to do something like this (atleast I won't). These are the same people who find it hard to move their mice up 2 cms to click a button - they're actually going to go to this lengths to do this?

      NO WAY.

      And usually, when I visit the supermarket, I go in a specific order that I'm used to. As and when I go through the things, I look at what I need to buy and buy it -- it's something that my brain is used to. And people who're used to writing lists, will continue to write lists and strike them off. This new fangled way is just asking for too much effort on the part of the user.

      Man, why do they try and throw technology to each and every problem? As though it's a panacea of some sort.
      • Re:Duh (Score:3, Interesting)

        by wasted ( 94866 )
        I agree. The only thing a computer on a cart could do for me would be to be able to locate specific items. For instance, Jalapeno peppers are located with Mexican food in some stores, pickles in others, and chips and dip in others. It would be nice to be able to find an item by hitting a few keys instead of trying to find a clerk. It would also be nice if it had a calculator so I can figure the best deal when store labels aren't in uniform units. (For instance, some meats in oz, other in lbs.)

        Of cours
      • "Man, why do they try and throw technology to each and every problem? As though it's a panacea of some sort."

        They're trying to provide more interesting services to get more customers, that's why.

        Though I think you may be right that this isn't going to reach mass-appeal, there are still those that would find this service interesting. It's a niche service, nothing wrong with that.
        • The problem I see, though, is that putting a computer in all the shopping carts sounds like a lot of money for a niche service. Is it really going to be worth it?
          • "The problem I see, though, is that putting a computer in all the shopping carts sounds like a lot of money for a niche service. Is it really going to be worth it?"

            I think the ball's entirely in their court. I'm not optimistic, no. On the other hand, one of the reasons I like shopping at WalMart is they've got those barcode scanners. I even use my calculator watch to keep track of how much I spend on a shopping trip. That can be seen one of two ways: 1.) I'd shop there because of that feature. 2.)
      • Re:duh (Score:3, Interesting)

        I'd be happy with this scenario:

        -Go to the grocery store's website.
        -Pick out all of the items I would like to purchase (prices listed).
        -Recieve an order number.
        -Go to the store.
        -Enter order number into shopping cart.
        -Shopping list (sorted by location) is displayed on an LCD attached to cart and items are stricken as they are placed in the cart.

        That would be the end of browsing around and spending 5 mins trying to decide whether you really need that twin-pack of Spam or not.
        • Re:duh (Score:3, Insightful)

          by hazem ( 472289 )
          I'd be happy with this scenario:

          -Go to the grocery store's website.
          -Pick out all of the items I would like to purchase (prices listed).
          -Recieve an order number.
          -Go to the store.


          I'd even be happier if at this point, you show up at a drive-up area, swipe your credit card, and your order is loaded in your car for you.

          • How about just having the order delivered for a buck or two?

            This is where I do 80% of my food shopping now: http://www.hipernet24.pl [hipernet24.pl] (polish language website)
          • I'd even be happier if at this point, you show up at a drive-up area, swipe your credit card, and your order is loaded in your car for you.

            Albertson's already provides that service (for a fee - about US$7 I believe). In fact, for a little extra, they'll even deliver the items to your house, but orders have to be placed at least a day ahead of time.
        • Re:duh (Score:2, Funny)

          by Ash-Fox ( 726320 )
          E-shopping disturbs me: "Other people who have baught duct tape have also baught XXL dustbin bags, Shogun kitchen knives and airifles"
      • Re:duh (Score:2, Interesting)

        by gears5665 ( 699068 )
        When I go shopping, I just go shopping. I would not bother making a list,

        It's been shown that people who don't make lists pay about 30% more for the same items as people who do.

        If thats acceptable to you compared to spending 10 minutes keeping a list....then power to you.

        It also means that you are the Ideal walmart shopper. Someone who wanders in with an item in mind and sees low prices on the front stuff but doesn't see the jacked up prices on the other stuff. In the end most people spend more at
  • This could make the carts a great target. Also, will the bag lady's get wi-fi on these things.
  • wtf? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DirtyJ ( 576100 ) on Sunday October 17, 2004 @01:10AM (#10548801)
    I like gadgets as much as the next geek, but isn't this a little absurd? Grocery shopping is not that difficult, people.
      • I like gadgets as much as the next geek, but isn't this a little absurd? Grocery shopping is not that difficult, people.

      True, except that it can be a pain when the store rearranges things, or when you're in one of the "super" centers (the size of small shopping malls). I can see where the locate an item feature would be very useful, but everything else seems just silly. I know I'd have appreciated something like that when trying to figure out where our Wal-mart hid the Q-tips recently. (Finally foun

    • You completely miss the point. This isn't done because shopping is difficult, this is done because some believe that customers will enjoy the store a little more if they have access to smart shopping carts. Some marketers also think that this may benefit the stores (and the customers too) by providing more avenues for personalisation, increase customer loyalty, etc.
  • by PapayaSF ( 721268 ) on Sunday October 17, 2004 @01:14AM (#10548816) Journal
    "On your left is new, improved, Scratch-No-More cream! Try it on that mysterious rash, instead of that off-brand cream you've been buying recently!"
  • Soon you will see spyware popping up on these shopping carts. Then it will give the term "hijacking" a whole new meaning! "Come back here with my milk!!!"
    • Well highjacking occurs at the moment. Just the other week, somebody tried to take my empty trolly (empty because I had only just wheeled it in the store and was selecting some apples to put in it).

      And there have been countless times that someone has thought my trolly was theirs and just walked off with it. Nomatter how high or low tech it is there will be a way for people to rip it off.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I used to work at a grocery store that had calculators on every cart. Guess what? They were removed because people weren't spending enough!
    • I used to work at a grocery store that had calculators on every cart. Guess what? They were removed because people weren't spending enough!

      Excellent point. This sort of thing appears ONLY because the retailer believes it will make them more money, by making you spend more. It is NOT for your convenience, and will disappear or be modified the instant it becomes apparent that people are using it to *reduce or control* their spending.

      Between a dollar store calculator and a paper and pencil, one has all th
  • by tomsuchy ( 813628 ) on Sunday October 17, 2004 @01:17AM (#10548824)
    The computer will also alert shoppers as they approach favorite items or promotions.

    Oh great, like I need a machine alerting me and everyone around me that we're approaching the condom aisle and there's a discount on my usual brand in bulk quantities.
    ...
    Ok, yeah, i know, wishful thinking...
    • Well, look at it this way.

      All the chicks will hear it out loud and know you for the man you are ;)
      • Which rarely is a good thing. Imagine if you were checking out a girl and found out she went through tubes of K.Y. a week.

        Maybe you're different, but that gets filed under "I better be drunk and not interested in commitment."
  • by FiReaNGeL ( 312636 ) <.fireang3l. .at. .hotmail.com.> on Sunday October 17, 2004 @01:18AM (#10548826) Homepage
    Gotta hate that last part. "The computer will also alert shoppers as they approach favorite items or promotions". First of all, I can remember myself what are my favorite items, thanks a lot. Secondly, I have the feeling that "promotions" will be in 99% cases stuff I don`t need.

    High tech isn't always good, remember that. Sometimes a shopping cart is best left as.. well, a shopping cart.
    • In the very near future when children are born they will be "sold" to corporations. The advertisers will control the clothes the child wears, food the child eats, pop the child drinks etc.

      Pretty soon this will become a status symbol. If you are the child of a movie star then corporations will enter into a bidding war to gain access to your child. The society will be tiered according to the likelyhood of influencing people to buy stuff.

      The poor of course will probably not be able to gain sponsorship for t
      • Uh...

        How is this different from now, or anytime in the past, or are you tongue in cheek?

        Sold to corporations = hiring employees. Dress codes and moral standards defined in your employee handbook can go a long way in defining your character if you like suburbia. And don't get me started on management or executive responsibility.

        Status symbol = your H2 that your CXX job paid for.

        Child of privilidge: know what an alumnus society is?

        Sponsorship = scholarships. Getting around this means you're related to or
    • You'd be surprised. Prediction algorithms have come a long way. I've worked on the one that Amazon used before they wrote their own, and actually seen the "guts" when the company went under. Without personalization (basically just filing lists of items as assigned to an anonymous entity), it is still very effective.
  • Super Cool (Score:5, Informative)

    by mattboston ( 537016 ) on Sunday October 17, 2004 @01:19AM (#10548828) Homepage
    I've been using the computer carts at Stop & Shop in Quincy MA(S&S HQ), and they are really cool. When you go down an isle it will tell you what you normally buy, and what's on sale. it will keep a running total of how much $$ your current cart costs, and when it's time to check out, you just walk up to the register, swip your shopper card, then pay.

    I just wish they would pay me for doing my own bagging and scanning!!!!!
    • I just wish they would pay me for doing my own bagging and scanning!!!!!

      I wish they would too. I think it is an insult to do it this way and not have it affect the price. It wasn't like the self-serve / full-serve gas where you choose based on cost and service recieved. The grociery stores axe a job or two per lane (cashier and bagger), make the customer do all the work. In my experience, the equipment works slower than the version cashiers use, and doesn't work as well either. If it isn't going to c
      • Heh, this is what is hilarious about self-serve gas.

        I live in Southern Oregon, and as some of you know Oregon prohibits self-service. Despite the arguments this does create a few extra jobs lying around.

        Of course, I take the 4-6 hour trip to Sacramento and somehow, despite the better economy, the distinct lack of anyone at the station other than maybe a mechanic, a single attendant (there are normally several in oregon stations), and a guy behind the counter inside, the gas is still more expensive.

        How is
    • I just wish they would pay me for doing my own bagging and scanning!!!!!

      I wish people had to pay for superfluous exclamation marks.

      Incase it never occurred to you, companies do all they can to externalize costs. That's one of the reasons supermarkets will adopt this cart. By getting you to do your own food scanning, you are essentially acting as an unpaid employee.


      -Colin [colingregorypalmer.net]
    • I just wish they would pay me for doing my own bagging and scanning!!!!!

      By eliminating baggers, they can afford to not raise the prices storewide by 1/2 a cent, as they normally would have done. Now 'lower' prices, just not raise them. You get to pocket that 1/2 cent per item as payment. Which is about right. 50 items in your cart, 25 cents. It takes maybe 2 minutes to bag, so you're getting paid $15/hr to bag your own stuff.

  • Clippy? (Score:2, Funny)

    by Scrab ( 573004 )
    I see you're trying to buy some ice cream.

    Would you like me to.

    *Suggest a flavour
    *Warn you about your weight
    *Make on of the wheels on the trolley wonky and steer you to the frozen yoghurt section
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 17, 2004 @01:22AM (#10548847)
    Massachusetts' mayor annoounced a program to educate the city's bums in order for them to take advantage of the new high-tech shopping cart technology, like inventory tracking of all the cans/stuff they put in and a wireless service that provides aluminum-can-to-booze market ratios for them to get more bang from their cans.
  • Slap a motor on to those wheels, add microprocessor controlled steering, and a robotic arm and I wouldn't need to go into the store at all.

    I suppose this sort of thing is intended to speed up or minimize what for most people is a mindless chore. But I wonder how it would impact those who shop for joy, as with cloths and fashion at department stores or in my case, gadgets and electronics at the local Fry's or Microcenter. How many slasdot geeks pay attention to the PR and promotional advertising anyway?
  • These things won't last...

    I spent two years at the local Food City, and carts get banged around to no end. Unless those carts are used in a specialty grocer where they don't venture out much, they're wasting their money...

    -thewldisntenuff
  • My thoughts... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by notthe9 ( 800486 )
    Albertsons has used the Dallas area as test reigon for their "shop and scan" system, where people can scan their club cards and a system will releice a wireless scanner which you can take around the store and use to scan your items as you go. When you are done you scan a bar code telling it you are done and then go to any checkout aisle (self-checkout or normal) and scan your club card again, which will automatically ring up all the items you scanned. The tranceivers resemble the little bar code scanners
  • I remember reading about something very similar on the BBC, here [bbc.co.uk].
    Basically, looks like it's already been trialled for some months - don't know if it's been more widely rolled out yet, though. I can't say it surprises me, there have been several attempts at less high-tech gadgets at supermarkets near me.

    As far as I know they've all failed - I think most young people just want groceries, although there is a bit of a gadget appeal, and older people who might be more likely to make lists and so are adverse to

  • by sssmashy ( 612587 ) on Sunday October 17, 2004 @01:52AM (#10548933)

    In addition, future features could include pharmacy favorites, ordering and notification, as well as product information that allows for comparison with similar items, consumer ratings and gift suggestions.

    Wife: I can't believe you gave our nine-year old son a box of detergent for a birthday present!

    Husband: I know, that's the last time I get my gift advice from a fucking shopping cart!

  • by PerpetualMotion ( 550623 ) on Sunday October 17, 2004 @01:56AM (#10548942)
    In Connecticut I've been using the automated checkout for about a year and a half. It is very convenient, but it is a computer, in a supermarket. Cashiers use glorified calculators, but the automated checkout is the real deal, a computer that needs the love and care of a sysadmin that the grocery store environment does not provide. A fleet of computerized shopping carts is not what these stores need.

    I was in the process of checking out, when I paid with cash, then finished paying with a debit card. No receipt came, I brought this to the attention of the person who attends the 4 automatic checkouts. Well, there was no receipt because there was no record of my transaction, my paying, or the items in my cart ever being scanned or going through the belt. Testing showed that it could create new transaction entries, so it was looking very much like I was trying to steal those ~$70 worth of groceries.

    30 minutes later, nothing really resolved, because there was nothing apparently wrong with the machine and no alarms went off as I bagged my groceries that went through the belt, they let me go despite all evidence pointing towards my guilt.

    The next time I checked myself out and paid with cash & debit I got no receipt. I didn't say anything, and I don't pay with cash & debit anymore.
  • FINALLY! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 17, 2004 @01:57AM (#10548947)
    Now I have way to know when I'm approaching my favorite items!

    Before, I had to rely on blind luck. I would run into the supermarket, eyes clos...hey wait a minute!!

    I'VE GOT EYES!!!!!! I just forgot to open them all this time!

    Problem solved!

    Seriously, the more I learn about technology, the more I believe it should be kept FAR AWAY FROM PEOPLE.

    In the old days, the lay people would be afraid of technology and what it might do to impact their lives negatively, while the scientists and smart people tried to explain the benefits.

    Now it's the other way around.. lay people just LOVE all this crap, and the smart people are going, "uhm, you know when your email goes BING every five seconds and you go to check it, that actually makes you LESS productive even though you are BUSIER?" and "yes, that bluetooth feature is cool, but did you know that I just downloaded your whole contact list, including the speed-dial entry for 1-800-GRANNY-GASH?" and "actually, electronic voting machines DO run on the same version of windows that you use" and so on and so on....
  • by irg1231491 ( 822815 ) on Sunday October 17, 2004 @02:03AM (#10548956)
    1. Increase overhead astronomically.
    2. ???
    3. Profit!
  • Winco shopping carts here in Reno NV now have "smart wheels" [66.98.132.48] that lock up if they leave the parking lot.
  • Not being in the grocery business myself, it's hard for me to get excited about this fantastic new technology.

    gives the shopper such features as: blah, blah, [trying to get you to buy more stuff]
    could offer such personal shopping assistance as: blah-blah,
    [getting you to buy even more stuff]
    In addition, future features could include... blah blah
    [additional efforts to get you to buy still more stuff]
  • by atomic-penguin ( 100835 ) <wolfe21.marshall@edu> on Sunday October 17, 2004 @02:10AM (#10548975) Homepage Journal
    1. Are they weatherproof? Will they go berserk from leaving them in the rain?
    2. You can now get your car dinged by a shopping cart that costs around the same or more than some used cars.
    3. Will the homeless have to pay property tax on a shopping cart that costs so much!
  • It's a trick. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sakusha ( 441986 ) on Sunday October 17, 2004 @02:14AM (#10548984)
    This is all a huge scam. I worked with a major S. Cal grocery chain (that must go unnamed) during their early experiments in "smart carts." They have no interest whatsoever in improving your shopping experience with smart carts. Their sole motivation is to gather more customer data. Did you know that grocery chains make far more money selling customer data than they do selling groceries? The profit margin on groceries is very slim, but corporations will pay big bucks for consumer purchasing behavior records. They want huge databases of purchasing behavior so the can statistically analyze what other products customers are buying alongside their products.
    • "They want huge databases of purchasing behavior so the can statistically analyze what other products customers are buying alongside their products."

      Geez, and here I thought the shopper cards were designed to save me 30 cents on a dozen 2 liter bottles of Coke. Instead, they want to know the buying habits of G. Khan, James T Kirk and Joe Stalin. All of whom live at 1600 Penn Ave.

      Oh well...
    • Re:It's a trick. (Score:2, Interesting)

      by gl4ss ( 559668 )
      *Did you know that grocery chains make far more money selling customer data than they do selling groceries?*

      no.
      are you high or just wacko? did you even stop for a second to think what you were saying?

    • I have a very hard time believing this. Where are your facts?
  • This system requires the use of email, right?

    Well then, there's only one certain outcome of this system: more spam! ... and more electronic junk mail, too!

    ~UP
  • I am still waiting for a cart that will return itself to the store instead of running all over the parking lot.
    • At least in europe, shopping carts are tethered to each other (and the racks) by thick chains. To get a cart, you insert a coin -- when I was a kid, it was 10 francs, or about 2 bucks. You get the money back by returning the cart to one of the stands and chaining it back up. Oddly enough, there was no problem with carts all over the parking lot ... just tonight, while waiting for a friend outside an american grocery store, we were watching the wind blowing carts around the parking lot, heading for cars ...
  • by Antony-Kyre ( 807195 ) on Sunday October 17, 2004 @02:25AM (#10549007)
    "I see your shopping list contains two items that may be used in bomb making or for creating meth. Your local police department has been notified and will pick you up for questioning in five minutes.

    We thank you for shopping here, and have a nice day!"
    • That's about the worst example I can think of. They can already do that at the cashier (and they do, in some places), so how is this going to change things? Yes, it's ridiculous that they restrict the sale of items that could possibly be used to make illegal things, but it's not like this will make things worse.
  • And, (Score:2, Insightful)

    by teknokracy ( 660401 )
    All you have to do is insert ten thousand quarters to unlock it from the rest of the carts out front!

    I worked at Safeway for a bit during high school, I know how people mistreat the carts (its actually probably the staff's fault that the carts never drive straight!) So what happens with an expensive gadget cart?
  • by Hershmire ( 41460 ) on Sunday October 17, 2004 @02:33AM (#10549020) Homepage
    They have to make the geek man's shopping cart:

    A cart that reads your shopping list on your USB key drive, then gives you the most efficient route to each ingredient, solving the Travelling Salesman problem [google.com] once and for all (and make shopping a bit less of a chore for husbands everywhere!).
    • by Triv ( 181010 )

      gives you the most efficient route to each ingredient...

      No shot. Groceries are laid out the way they are for a reason - by putting the most common groceries in opposite corners of the store forces you to walk by stuff you don't need but might by. It is wholly within their interest to keep you in the store (and moving) for as long as possible. Giving you directions is in direct conflict with that goal.

      You want really scary, take a look at how cereals are arranged next time you're in the store - bigge

  • by mabu ( 178417 ) on Sunday October 17, 2004 @02:35AM (#10549023)
    A friend in Europe told me that there's at least one supermarket in France where they have different colored carts which supposedly indicate your marital status - kind of like a "singles grocery store". If you're single and looking you have a different colored cart. As goofy as it sounds, it seems like an interesting way for people to meet. Can anyone confirm the existence of such a supermarket?
  • I already have a shopping buddy, and his name is Bonzai [spywareinfo.com]!
  • by sllim ( 95682 ) <achance@@@earthlink...net> on Sunday October 17, 2004 @02:57AM (#10549078)
    I think my subject pretty much sums up my feelings. This sounds to me like one of the most annoying uses for technology I have heard about in a very long time.

    I wonder if the person who invented those automated touch tone dialers that pass as customer service departments that I find so despicable had anything to do with this?
  • by Unoti ( 731964 ) on Sunday October 17, 2004 @03:13AM (#10549116) Journal
    The computer will also alert shoppers as they approach favorite items or promotions

    I'm an introvert. Just being at the store is about all the interactivity I want in a given day. Make it any more interactive and I'm going to need some quiet time afterwards!

  • by zakezuke ( 229119 ) on Sunday October 17, 2004 @03:31AM (#10549158)
    It's sorta interesting to see how amazingly complex they make the act of buying a jug of milk. At present my local supermarket sells milk at about $4.00/gal. I also know the same milk is almost always onsale in the coupon book for 1/2 the price. I drink 1/2 gal daily and I easily save $300+ yearly. I hit the website before I hit the store and print off a coupon that won't scan (stupid jpg) and write a little note "web coupons don't scan blame them". Coupons are a total waste of time for both the consumer and the retailer. I only look for that milk coupon, I don't bother checking for anything else. However a Trader Joes will be opening near me, and they sell milk consistently for just slightly over $2.00/gal. Guess where I'll be buying my milk.

    Now we have this smart-cart which I admit sounds like it has some nice features to it, but it mostly seems like a device designed to waste my time. I imagine this is no diffrent than any other medium, offing some great reward for taking the time to look at their crap. It would be nice if more stores would simply respect what consumers like my self want, which is to just freaking go in and buy stuff without any complex games with the prices.

    Give me Trader Joes, give me Costco. Don't give me loyalty cards, don't give me targeted demographics, or captive advertising. Screw the marketing think tanks who's sole purpose in life is to convience me buying a coke will get women I hardly even know to give me a handjob.
  • these aren't new (Score:2, Insightful)

    I live in Massachusetts and Stop-n-Stop (the "Massachusetts supermarket chain") was beta testing these or something similar with select people a few years back. most of the time it takes you a while to realize and/or take advantage of the actual convenience. most people are either afraid or sick of being hassled by technology. anyway I think it's a waste of money. those new digital self-checkouts aren't any faster... but they get the user involved (removing boredom) and slow things down even further when id
  • by nysus ( 162232 ) on Sunday October 17, 2004 @04:50AM (#10549328)
    Ultimately, the personal shopping assistants will allow shoppers to pay at the cart.


    Great, now we've found a way to outsource cashier work over to data entry jobs in India.

  • As a Checkout boy, I wouldn't be able to help myself from stealing one of these carts and rip them apart at home ;) And I doubt this would eventuate anyway because of Privacy Concerns, "History of favourite items" would ring alarms in any Privacy-concened persons' head. Those 'Fly Buys' cards are bad enough and not once person has ever asked about privacy concerns with those things when I'm serving someone.
  • by servognome ( 738846 ) on Sunday October 17, 2004 @05:47AM (#10549439)
    Call me pessemistic, but these carts will become almost entirely marketing tools.
    I can't see stores trying to help you purchase what's on your list, or getting you through the store more quickly.
    If I go to the store to get toothpaste and detertergent, invariablly I'll end up with a few T-bone steaks (50% off!), some ketchup (the 80 oz bottle at 16oz bottle price!), some cereal (darn I walked down wrong aisle), and candy and cola (just cuz I never have enough).
    It's in the stores best interest to make the items you want more difficult to find, while making items they want to get rid of easy to find with giant blinking lights and bright red "WOW" stickers.
    Once the novelty wears off, stores will either dump the carts because impulse sales are down, or turn the carts into non-stop advertisers.
  • by jpellino ( 202698 ) on Sunday October 17, 2004 @06:54AM (#10549577)
    if you've ever used their self-checkout, it's pretty weak - it's far too complicated compared to at least two other new england retailers' methods - it uses a very tricky light sensor chain to track purchases as they go to the bagging area, and the bagging area is too easy to fill. Ther is pitiful integration between the touch screen that you use for most thngs and the debit/credit card reader - the whole thing was patched together - there is no flow or path of the things you'll need to use - cash receiver, change slot, pin buttons, etc... the touch screen asks what sort of card you're using then the card reader does too - a giant red x usually means cancel what i'm doing, but at chas back time it means no cash back and there's a cancel button.

    It's too much like trying to learn the macarena during the wedding reception.

    Point being, if they do this like the did self-checkout, they're in for a bumpy ride.
  • Theft (Score:4, Insightful)

    by yoshi_mon ( 172895 ) on Sunday October 17, 2004 @07:59AM (#10549717)
    It seems that no matter where you live that some shopping carts always end up on the side of the road somewhere or something along those lines.

    Now as others in this thread have pointed out this whole deal has basically nothing to do with the customers experience and everything to do about filling up more databases to sell to manufactures.

    My question is will the cost of a) buying and maintaining, b) preventing theft/vandalism, and c) ensuring that they give accurate data be enough to cover whatever profit margin they hope to obtain?
  • At our local Kroger.. It was a non-backlit LCD screen + touch pad mounted on the 'handle' of the cart.About 8" or so..

    It showed the stores 'map', had a calculator, and would often spit out annoying ads as you went down specific isles...

    They also screamed for help ( ok ok, they started beeping ) if you went too far from the store.. Presumably to prevent theft.. However the poor quality of the display pretty much did that anyway.

    They ran them for about a year, then disappeared.. Ahead of their time perhap

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