Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Shop smart

We all know that shoppers are becoming more and more concerned about the food they buy and where it comes from. Ironic that product information is becoming critical to shopping at the same time as shoppers are becoming more pressed for time and overwhelmed by choice. With as many as 60,000 products in some hypermarkets, who wouldn’t be? A recent report from the technology giant EDS in the UK tackled the information challenge in Shopping Choices: Attractions or Distraction? In fact, one of the key findings was that while shoppers demanded more information, the information did what it usually does - it overloaded their ability to make choices so they became so confused that they ignored it and focused on price. Not the response that manufacturers and retailers hoped for. My argument has always been that we have to stop obsessing over the information we provide and start responding to shopping as an essentially emotional experience. In other words, we have to be empathetic about what shoppers want to know, not what we want to tell them. 73% of respondents in the research were confident that they understood the information they were given. Well I’m in the 27% who don’t and that admission brings me to useful shopper technologies. Smart shopping carts can already keep track of what shoppers are buying and where products are in-store. It seems to me that we are only one small step away from a super-smart cart that can show shoppers exactly what is in the products they take off the shelf and what the implications may be for their families and communities. These implications could go as far as working conditions in distant factories, environmental impacts or local initiatives supported. I imagine all this stuff on cool little screens that mix icons and sounds to make finding what you want an attractive and memorable sisomo experience.