This post is a little different from what I usually write about, but it is really interesting, so I couldn't refuse. When I was at ad:tech in Chicago at the beginning of August, I had the opportunity to talk with the CEO of Modiv Media, Bob Wesley. Modiv Media is creating the next generation of grocery stores. Shopping at the grocery store is a weekly task that hasn't really been improved since its inception. Modiv Media is finally combining technology with one of the most common tasks we do today. All I can say is that it's about time.
Sure your local grocery store may have a self-checkout line, if you're lucky, but even that advancement in technology is inconvenient if you have a lot of groceries. That's why Modiv Media gives you a gun. Well, not a real gun, but a scanner that the company calls the "Personal Shopping Assistant."
Built by Motorola, the Personal Shopping Assistant (PSA) gets checked out from a kiosk at the entrance to the store and is linked to your rewards card for the store. It features an LCD screen to show you what is in your cart and make recommendations as you shop and scan. Here's the cool part. The device knows you. It knows what you like, knows the weather, knows where you are in the store, so that it can most effectively target its recommendations. Sure that may sound a little Big Brother-ish, but there's not much that doesn't feel that way these days.
The point where you really realize the potential of technology like this is when you reach the deli. Just place your order at the kiosk there and go to do the rest of your shopping. When your order is ready to be picked up, you will be notified on your PSA.
Now, you may be asking, "How does this relate to Web services?" Well, I did say that this post was a little different from what I usually write on, but this system does have a Web services hook-in. Once you have signed up for a rewards program at a store that has this system, you can opt in to mobile alerts or WAP access. For example: people are more likely to go shopping right before a snowstorm, it's just a matter of where you go. Imagine, then, that you look at your phone and see that you have received a 15 percent snowstorm discount at this store. Where do you think you're going? There are also opportunities for future Web components on your computer at home as well.
Modiv Media's system is currently available at some stores on the East Coast as a test market, so if you have any experiences, be sure to tell us about them in the comments, or let me know via e-mail. I think that this is absolutely the next generation of grocery shopping and it's here now. Just to clear up how the system works as a whole, I've included a diagram below.