Thursday, June 21, 2007

Media Cart - as if food wasn't expensive enough

Here's a novel idea from Media Cart, Inc. Its a scanner and screen attached to the cart that allows you to scan your items as you shop. I like the idea, but what will it cost to implement? Sure I save time at the checkout lane, but is that really worth spending more on the food products I buy to equip the hundreds of carts at each grocery store with a scanner and LCD screen?

Unfortunately the idea is taken a little too far. The 'screen' on the cart also includes a GPS-like store navigator. If grocery stores were really concerned about their customers getting lost, they'd stop rearranging their shelves every few months! I just don't need a navigation system to tell me where the milk is.

Another problem is that it will embed advertising. Worse if you use your "store card" (which they force you to by hiking up the prices if you don't use it) the system will track your purchases and begin displaying "relevant ads". Meaning if I buy lots of bags of rice, my cart is going to start suggesting I buy certain brands.

This cart starts off with a good concept, but ruins it by basically becoming a platform for manipulating customers into purchasing higher priced name-brand goods.

This is a start, but its a bit misleading for the company to say it is designed to save us (consumers) time and money. If that were the case, they'd have some useful tools, such as the ability to scan different brands (and sizes) of products and tell you which one gives you the most for the least amount of money. Alas, such a tool is absent from the Media Cart, but I bet it will tell you just how delicious "Cheerios" are.

I'll stick to the plain metal carts, unless a grocery store releases product designed to help me make better purchasing decisions, not just help me spend more.

1 comment:

Fredrik Persson said...

I've used a system like this. Some stores in Sweden have implemented it.

It's really no good at all, for me as a consumer. The scanning process takes a lot of time. The fruits and vegetables must be weighed and and labeled by the consumer, before it can be scanned.

I'm no longer shopping in the store that uses this system, even though I thought I'd like it at first.