Thursday, June 25, 2009


I watched an interesting program on the Retail industry – specifically on innovations in Supermarkets – on the History Channel last week and found it to be fascinating. I think I missed the first part of the program and only managed to see the last 15-20 minutes of it but even that was so very exciting to watch.

There was talk about how supermarket owners once noticed customers struggling with their baskets when picking up items from the shelves after which someone invented the supermarket trolleys (the inspiration was a folding chair whose seat was replaced with a steel carrier). What surprised me was that it apparently took no less than 10 years for the trolley to then evolve into some of the versions we see today! Latter versions of the trolley had flexible backs in order to allow for another trolley to be rolled into it when being piled up. Then, they thought of double carriers, child carriers, trolley locks etc. With recent technological developments, some supermarkets are experimenting with electronic devices that fit into the trolleys and help customers a) locate the shelves that the products they want to buy are on b) scan their products on the fly and calculate their total purchase as they pick up their items thus saving a lot of time at the cash counter c) scan and even compare the stuff that they pick up with standard products etc

It is predicted that with the advancement of RFID technology, all the customer will have to do is walk out of the shop through a panel that automatically scans all the products in the bag and the customer’s credit card and deducts the amount owed by her! Wow! Imagine that!

One more aspect of supermarkets that the program covered was the design of the layout and the placement of products based on buyer psychology. (I’d earlier read about this in my marketing books.) Extremely intriguing stuff! Fresh fruits are placed right in front so they add to the colour of the place, the perishables that people are bound to purchase often are right at the back of the shop as that means people will have to walk through the aisles and may end up buying more than what they planned for (I don’t like such manipulation though), in-supermarket bakeries are encouraged as they lend aroma to the place and make people linger on while munching cakes and cookies etc.

Methinks every damn (routine) thing on earth can be made more exciting than it seems to be at first, provided we believe in and genuinely focus on improving the customer-experience and get the creative juices flowing! :-) Inspires me to ponder over improving some of the routine stuff I am involved in….

Note: Just realized that I'd made a whole bunch of mistakes in this post. Why was I in such a hurry to post it? Anyway, I've corrected all of them now. (Detects instead of deducts, later instead of latter....pshaw!)


Atul said...

Thinking ... real-time advertising based on the latest scanned products (cross-sell?), a trolley that lets you connect to twitter, you could tweet your network for advice, or to inform?

Nimmy said...

Wow....very cool ideas, Atul!! Real-time advertising would really work....many a customer might make an impulsive decision and purchase!
Being able to tweet from the trolley is another brilliant idea!! :-) Keep thinking! I am waiting to be subjected to such experiences before I am too old! :-))

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Nimmy said...

Hello OI team!~

Thanks for the comment and the appreciation of the absurd alliteration alongside my blog posts. ;-)

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Nimmy said...

Umm...I did....! :-) Interesting stuff....!

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