Sainsbury to Test iPad Shopping Cart

Discussion
Aug 31, 2011

Someone is going to make the marriage of shopping carts and video work, right? While a number of companies have introduced carts with video systems in recent years, none has gained widespread acceptance in the U.S.

The general idea behind various cart technologies has been to help keep shoppers (or their small children) entertained while in the store, expose them to advertising/selling messages and, in more sophisticated applications, enable scanning and checkout.

A system being tested by Stop & Shop, which allows consumers to use iPhones to help them shop and scan items as they go through the store, has shown some promise, based on reports. Of course, it is not technically a cart system.

Now, a new report from the U.K. has Sainsbury testing a shopping cart system designed for iPads. The cart developed by the Sky broadcasting company comes with a tilting iPad holder and speakers that allows consumers, among other things, to watch its live sports and news programs. Carts, according to a report by The Telegraph, come equipped with an onboard battery that is solar charged. Sensors of the front bumpers give off a beep if the person pushing the cart gets too close to other shoppers.

Brett Hart, Sainsbury’s "trolley" (shopping cart in American) buyer, told The Telegraph, "We strive to make our customers’ lives simpler, which is why we’re looking at these new trolleys."

Discussion Questions: Do you see an opportunity to marry technology and shopping carts at retail? Why have video cart types of systems not succeeded in the U.S. to date?

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16 Comments on "Sainsbury to Test iPad Shopping Cart"


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Dr. Stephen Needel
Guest
9 years 8 months ago

OK – what did we learn from all the other attempts at this? Two things we learned – paying attention to video while looking down and moving is a bad thing and many people in a store with a marked increase in ambient noise is a bad thing. How is this any better? Beepers in front is a pretty lame solution – you know that all day long all you will hear is beep, beep, beep. Once again, technology in search of an application rather than a consumer need being fulfilled.

Ian Percy
Guest
9 years 8 months ago

Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Are we fully intent on making every human experience as complicated, impersonal and mechanical as possible? As another discussion today indicates there is a growing ‘fatigue’ with it all. We can’t even go for a simple hand-holding walk in the park without some kind of technical interference! Solar powered shopping carts for goodness sakes! There’s an answer, make sure your kids are being radiated in front of a monitor 24/7. You wouldn’t want them actually looking around at the world they live in. I’ll tell you what to do with your bleeping shopping carts. Enough!

J. Peter Deeb
Guest
9 years 8 months ago

I believe we will definitely see “smart” shopping carts in the near term in the US. The under 30 future shoppers will drive the technology into our business. If not built into carts, there will certainly be apps by retailers that can tie into smart phones. Convenience is the mantra and carts that accept personalized lists that signal when the cart is at the shelf; build lists by sliding a loyalty card into an iPad, deliver targeted offers by customer, total up receipts as items go in the cart etc will enhance the shopping experience and help to keep future consumers visiting the bricks and mortar locations. Perishable purchases will still require store visits at least for the foreseeable future and well positioned retailers will design programs to enhance purchases and speed up the checkout process.

Steve Montgomery
Guest
9 years 8 months ago

There are a lot of questions to be answered to determine the value of this concept. Is the object to get the person who would be home watching something to come shopping or to get them to spend more time in the store because they are being entertained? I believe the fundamental question is, do retailers want people watching their iPad or looking at the items on the shelf? What Sainsbury is providing is a holder and speakers, with the customer bringing their own iPad, so there is no opportunity to use it to market to the customer, therefore having more of a novelty value than anything else.

Doug Stephens
Guest
Doug Stephens
9 years 8 months ago

The truth is, app makers aren’t waiting for grocery retailers to make the first move here. There’s a ton of apps out there that are offering consumers things that grocery stores SHOULD be offering but aren’t. Apps like CompareMe, that allow consumers to compare two like items in different quantities to see which is the best value. Apps that explain product additives in plain English, just by scanning the ingredient list. Other apps for vegetarians that analyze ingredients for animal byproducts. These are the kinds of value added features that grocery stores need to be giving their shoppers.

Grocery stores have to move beyond pushing coupons and advertising (like we need more brand impressions in a grocery store) and give their customers legitimate utility through technology that makes their lives better, healthier and/or more affordable.

Max Goldberg
Guest
9 years 8 months ago

Video carts have not succeeded in the US because they have not made the shopping experience easier or quicker. Retailers should develop software that consumers can use to prepare for the shopping trip, find what they need quickly in-store and check out easily. Along the way, these programs should allow for social interaction and information gathering.

Roger Saunders
Guest
9 years 8 months ago

U.S. consumers are making about 99 shopping trips per year to grocery stores. With the uncertainty in the economy, rising gas prices over the past year, and a need to deal with inflationary pricing on food, most of these trips have become “mission-oriented,” i.e., the consumer is buying what they need.

A broader portion of the population is becoming technologically savvy, and the issue of “how do I operate this device” is rapidly being overcome. If carts and technology are to become a success, the consumer is going to have to become convinced that there is a cost savings for them in time, money, and convenience/ opportunity.

Busy lives don’t offer all that much time to linger in the store for entertainment purposes. The formula isn’t baked yet, and it is not likely that scale is there to make technology and carts a meaningful play over the next 3 years.

Doron Levy
Guest
Doron Levy
9 years 8 months ago

Ok, firstly I want to say that the instruction manual that comes with the new Hyundai Equus is awesome! Next, I want to say that this iPad shopping cart is going drive the retailers biggest nemesis: distraction. So you push your cart down the aisle with the iPad going and guess what, you aren’t looking at the shelves. You aren’t looking at signs. You aren’t looking at products. You aren’t actually interacting with the store as you should be. Instead the customer will be managing the iPad (or the screaming kids wanting to play with the iPad)> Haven’t we distracted the consumers enough? Just come in and buy something.

Gene Detroyer
Guest
9 years 8 months ago

Am I watching sports and news or am I shopping? This is silly. The ultimate in-store device is going to be the shopper’s personal device. All devices are converging. They are life tools. Everything that is needed for shopping the aisle can be delivered on a personal device. And most importantly, controlled by the user.

Lisa Bradner
Guest
Lisa Bradner
9 years 8 months ago

From what I’ve seen of the shopping cart technologies, they have focused on being a media platform vs. providing utility for the shopper. The answer for why is obvious: advertising pays for the cart (which retailers haven’t wanted to do), makes it a platform for capturing trade dollars and puts the technology into a metaphor marketers understand. The problem is the shopper hasn’t signaled they’re dying for media coming at them in what is already a cluttered and chaotic shopping environment.

There is definitely a play for technology at retail: ShopBuddy, as an example, seems at least to focus on providing a consumer benefit (if you use this you’ll get special deals) but technology that just provides additional stimuli without a clear consumer value proposition is going to struggle.

Warren Thayer
Guest
9 years 8 months ago

Lots of reasons this won’t work, all spelled out above. And I love Ian Percy’s “Are we fully intent on making every human experience as complicated, impersonal and mechanical as possible?” Perfect.

Kimberly Nasief-Westergren
Guest
Kimberly Nasief-Westergren
9 years 8 months ago

I see an opportunity, both for marketing and consumer feedback purposes. The devil will be in the details.

My first thought is that the iPad in particular might be subject to theft or damage. My next thought is that it takes control out of the consumer’s hand. I was in a liquor store last week where there were cart “televisions.” I found it a nuisance, and actually used my iPhone to research a product. I may be biased, though. If used for checkout, I’d rather use my own portable device to check out, than someone else’s portable device.

From a marketing perspective, allowing consumers to conduct that search on the iPad would capture incredibly valuable data about what is being searched for in-store.

Test it. Video consumers in the store interacting with the product to determine what if it is used. View search history, click throughs, and transaction history to see if it actually is driving sales..and, if it continues to drive sales after the novelty has worn off.

Tim Henderson
Guest
Tim Henderson
9 years 8 months ago

Tech-enabled shopping carts haven’t succeeded because there isn’t a market for them. In the grocery, discounter, drug and club channels (the channels where such carts are most likely to be used), most shoppers have a clear goal: get the shopping done.

That said, shoppers are obviously using personal handheld technology during their trips. And that does provide opportunity for brands to continue to engage shoppers by creating smartphone apps that increase shopping convenience and/or entertainment (e.g., shopping lists, store maps, shopping games). But as for integrating the tech with the cart, that’s a no sale.

Herb Sorensen, Ph.D.
Guest
9 years 8 months ago

In my opinion, this one is NOT going to fly. The finest on-cart deployment continues to be MediaCart, but the cost remains a barrier which may or may not be hurdled. Modiv Shopper (at Stop & Shop) has the best development/long-term track record, and extending to the iPhone could be a winner. Of course, all this began in the ’90s with IRI’s VideoCart.

It is likely that none of the cart based initiatives will survive the challenge of a successful smart phone effort. There are lots of efforts, but none worth writing home about, as of yet. The potential is huge, but the understanding of shoppers is pathetic. But then, even a blind squirrel finds an acorn now and then.

Odonna Mathews
Guest
Odonna Mathews
9 years 8 months ago

Do consumers really have time to watch sports and news programs while shopping, an activity many don’t like to do anyway? Will this just be another distraction and annoyance for shoppers who bring their children with them into the store? Will it add to the noise factor that could prove annoying to other customers who are shopping the aisles? I think so.

Smart phones seem to offer the ultimate in convenience and personalization and can include many of the money saving comparison apps to use while shopping.

Al McClain
Guest
Al McClain
9 years 8 months ago

Sainsbury says the reason they are looking at these is because “we strive to make our customers’ lives simpler.” Ha. If you want to make shoppers’ lives simpler, simplify the store layout and provide appealing products.

The typical supermarket experience includes end cap displays, endless in-store signage, TV’s in several places, a variety of types of kiosks, piped in scents and/or music, checkout coupons, shelf coupons, floor advertising, etc. I’m not against having two or three of these types of displays and advertising in a store, but when the shopper is inundated, they will go elsewhere for a calmer, pleasant, shopping experience, a la Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s. And, they will go regularly.

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