Improving Grocery Stores With Data

groceryThe app Shopsavvy for the Android and Redlaser for the iPhone are pretty sweet. With the iPhone 3GS you can use its video camera to capture a barcode, then the app shows you price comparisons for that product online as well as comparing the price to other stores near you.

This makes me think of all the cool things grocery stores could do if they harnessed the internet’s data collection and social networking abilities. A few ideas:

1. Grocery stores already keep track of purchases with their loyalty cards when you check out, why not share that information with the consumer? Give the customer a personal page on their website that shows their shopping habits and make recommendations like Amazon does – 90% of people who purchase Cool Ranch Doritos also buy Cherry Coke.

2. Being able to see everything that you have purchased and the quantity of what you have purchased would help you plan your shopping better. Like what Mint does for personal finance, you would know more accurately how often you need to buy milk. You could see pie charts that show you how much of your food purchases are made up of candy.

3. With more data, grocery stores could give highly relevant and targeted coupons designed individually for the consumer. With enough time the grocery store will know which kind of offers – buy one get one or % off – and on which products incentivize customers to buy. They could figure out that my cookie of choice is Oreos and any discount below 20% off won’t make me buy, but as soon as an offer comes for 30% off Oreos, I’m there. The store could effectively maximize every purchasers buying ability.

9. Brands could set up loyalty products for each of their items. Your 10th Kraft purchase gives you 10% off your next purchase of cheese.

7. Or how about instead of going through a checkout line you put your cart through a conveyor track, like an x-ray machine at the airport, that scans all your items immediately and gives you the price.  No more paying price checkers and no more lines.

8. Or, what if your fridge had bar scanners on the side of it so that it knew everything that you had in the fridge. It could tell how often you take things out so it would alert you if some food was about to expire soon. If you needed to go grocery shopping, just push a button on the fridge and have it print out everything you have run out of, or better yet, send it to your handset.

5. What if every time you put an item in your cart, a digital read-out of the total price of everything in your cart was displayed on the cart handle; take something out of the cart and the price goes down. This would be awesome for customers to be sure they weren’t spending too much while picking out the groceries. Of course, grocery stores probably like that we don’t know how much everything costs until we get to the check out line. But think off all the cool stuff you could do:

6. Supercook is an online tool asks what’s in your kitchen and then uses that information to provide dozens, if not hundreds, of unique dishes that you probably would never have thought of on your own. What if the grocery store kept track of what you put in your cart and gave you ideas of what dishes you could make while in the grocery store  – add Country Crock butter and Pace Picante Salsa, and you have all the ingredients you need to make zesty enchiladas.

4. Looking at the data you could tell in what order most purchases happen in. So they find out that statistically, after people buy meat, the next thing they buy is beer. Up-sell by placing selected items next to, or in-between the meat and the beer for that purchaser to see like barbecue sauces or beer coasters.

10. Let customers connect with other customers who buy similar things. Looks like you buy a lot of spices and ingredients, would you like to join a recipe community in your area? You BBQ a lot, compete in your local community cook-off.

Maybe some of this stuff seems a little too much big brother, but I would let companies know my purchasing habits in exchange for relevant coupons, food suggestions and insights to my food buying habits.

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