Supermarket of the future: A brief introduction
With technology we can use and spell (thank god for TLAs – Three letter acronyms) and nanotech,the only faces that we’re likely to see in future retail establishments are machine interfaces. We won’t need shopping lists and the Wal-Marts and Tescos can be as big as A city itself and we’re still going to be able to navigate the place and find what we’re looking for. The environment will be sterile and a playground for your senses with extra helpings of inner aurial and enhanced touch, even sixth sense, artificially induced. Retail heaven or sci-fi hell? The only difference is we won’t all be wearing white. Or will we?
You will have a mobile device that is your mobile, mini computer, diary, wallet, loyalty card and GPS. It has all the wireless protocols, a barcode scanner, HD camera and it will be powered by HP and Cisco and designed by Apple and Sony-Ericsson.
Your basket/cart has a scanner and a touch screen. As you walk into an aisle, it tells you where you are, what are the promotions located and the screen correlates with what’s on the shelves for quick and easy access, instead of having to browse through the entire SKU of the retailer (like you get on the weighing scales).
It will show you cross-promotions so if you put a bag of Anya potatoes in your basket, the screen will show you ideas for recipes with Anya potatoes, and consequently try and sell you the sauces etc. It can also tell you if you coupons for those items on the shelves, so that you don’t have to remember all of them. Another variation of this is that the basket communicates with your mobile device, which could have your shopping list, and it can tell you if you’ve forgotten something from that aisle, or if someone’s birthday’s coming up!
After you’ve finished shopping, you take your basket, or cart, and put the products on a conveyor belt, and it goes through a scanner, like a CT scanner, smaller. It asks you if you want to use the coupons that are in your device and if your purchase today entitles you to more coupons, the system will upload and update automatically. A robot arm at the end packs your purchase into a box or bag, likely to be silver. Or sterilised.
At this point the system tells you that your parking ticket, which was uploaded as you rolled into the car park, has now been acknowledged and you have an hours’ free parking remaining. The device also tells you that your car, which you have sent for a car wash, will be ready in 30 minutes.
You go to the café and order a latte. The barrista –or robot (!!) – makes it and puts it on a counter, which scans the cup and identifies it as a regular latte with a shot of hazelnut syrup. As you lift it, it tells you that it’s £3.90 to pay and you swipe your device across the counter and in half a second, the funds have been deducted from your e-wallet.
25 minutes later the device vibrates and you have an instant message telling you that your car will be ready in 5 minutes and that it is in bay X3-8.
You stand up and walk out of the café, and as you leave the exit detects your mobile device and reminds you to “please make sure you have your shopping with you and have a safe journey. Please send our regards to the mrs.” The 19 year old rapper wannabe behind you gets Dr. Dre telling him “’Sup, dawg. See ya ’round, aight!”.
You get to bay X3-8 and there’s your car all shiny and gleaming. There’s a box at the back and you swipe your device in front of it and asks you to type in a passkey. It unlocks and your keys are in there. The car wash fee has been automatically deducted and the receipt has been transmitted and kept in your “outgoings” folder. The wheel clamp disengages.
You dock the device on the dashboard and a map appears on the windscreen. It shows you directions to your home, but you want to your parents. Softly you say “mom and dad’s” and the map changes, showing you directions to your parents.