Here is an idea for a modern shopping cart that I offer freely to any and all grocery stores and retailers. The shopping cart hasn’t changed much in the last four decades. With the exception of the annoying mechanism that locks the wheels just before I reach my car (my car being parked far away because that was the only parking spot I could find in the lot) the shopping cart is what is was when I was a kid. Technology has improved, and I think we can see significant improvements toward a modern shopping cart if that technology is applied.
The shopping cart is designed to make it easy to carry your groceries as you make your way through the store. But there is the potential for it to do much more. More and more grocery stores have introduced self-checkout lanes to speed up the process of checking out. But what if the shopping cart itself handled all of this? Here is what I propose:
- On the handlebar of the cart, a small computer touchscreen is mounted. The screen contains a bar code reader as well as a place to swipe a credit card.
- When you load an item into your cart, the cart detects what is loaded, displayed the item on the screen, and calculates the price so you can see a running total of what your bill will be.
- If you remove something from your cart, it is removed from the total.
- If you add something like produce, where price is based on weight, the cart can detect how much the item weights and calculate the price, adding it to the total.
- The bar code reader can scan your club card, so that the prices are adjusted based on special club pricing the store offers.
- The bar code reader can also scan coupons. Since the cart knows what you’ve added to it, it can deduct from the total the value of any coupons you scan.
- The cart has the ability to be linked with a second cart, so if you are doing a lot of shopping (with your spouse, for instance), the total displayed is the total for both linked carts.
- At any time, you can get running total of how much the groceries in your cart cost. This is useful if you do weekly grocery shopping and are trying to stay on a budget.
- When adding an item, the cart can alert you when a less expensive, generic brand is available, and how much that would save you.
- When you are ready, you can swipe your credit or debit card to pay for the items. Then you can just walk out of the store, avoiding all the lines. There could be a station near the exits just for bagging groceries you’ve paid for. If you want to pay cash, you can line up, but you still know exactly how much you will pay, no one will have to scan the groceries.
I doubt many stores would go for this. Though it would save time, and probably save consumers a lot of money, there isn’t much incentive for a grocery store to implement such a system. The idea is for consumers to spend more money, not less, and knowing exactly how much you have in your cart would upset this model.