A time and place for technology

Some of my colleagues have used this space to extol the virtues of technology and how consumers use it. They, as well as many others, say more and more consumers—particularly grocery shoppers—are relying on smartphones and the like for everything ranging from creating and following shopping lists to downloading coupons.

Right now I view some of the shopper-based technology available similarly to the way the incomparable Fred Flintstone referred to a prehistoric Grand Canyon, which was at the time just a tiny crack with a trickle of water running through it:  “It may not be much now, but they are expecting great things from it.”

For example, I frequent several different grocery chains several times a week. In addition to picking up the weekly essentials and the occasional rotisserie chicken, I spend a good amount of time watching people shop. In all time I have spent in supermarkets, I can honestly say I have yet to see a shopper use his or her iPhone to check a shopping list or scan a QR code. However, I do still see mom’s crossing off items from the back of an envelope on a pretty regular basis.

Technology can be a wonderful thing, and of course retailers should be looking into providing its shoppers with all the advantages technology can provide. In the (perhaps not too distant) future it will probably become commonplace for shoppers to eschew pencils for smartphones. But for now, it seems to me that there are more important areas within the store retailers can focus on in order to improve their customers’ shopping experience.

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