In 20 years we will think back of supermarkets and will ask ourselves, why it took us that long to replace it? Was the internet too slow?
The supermarket experience is completely inadequate for the 21st century. Let me walk you to the process – in case you have not visited a supermarket in the last 10 years.
The access experience
You have to transport yourself to a place. If you are driving, you need to plea to the gods to find a parking spot. If you are not driving, you need to make sure you know: how do you plan to exit the place with all the bags at the brink of tearing apart.
If you arrived at the door, you need to go take a shopping car or a basket. Only until the last Pandemia they started to clean the cart handles, but before, who knows? So you pick one, making sure you don’t select the conservative shopping cart (it only turns unapologetically to the right), or the liberal shopping cart (squeaks unless you turn to the left).
The search experience
Now, if you are like me, you go shopping with a plan in mind. You enter, find what you need, go to the cashier and done deal. Good luck with that, if you are trying to find something that is not in the middle row of the aisle. I have to give credit to the real life “Alexa”s – the supermarket clerks – that will try to help you, when they are not flood with customers at the cash register, if that is the case, you are on your own.
You try using the top level boards for the supermarket sections. They expect that you know that tortillas are not in the bread section, but in the corner of something called ethnic foods. But the pita bread, is not in the ethnic foods but in the bread section. You are confused. So you end up walking the whole place a couple of times.
The worst pain, is when you have to go across to supermarket to find the two single things you need to buy for french toasts. They put eggs, milk and bread at the back, so you have to walk thru the aisles and figure if you need something else. The worst User Centric solution ever. Put the milk in the front.
Some people just knows that going to the supermarket counts like cardio, and they walk all the aisles in a zigzag pattern. Enjoyable if you are not alone or sad. Otherwise, why do you care about printed blogs of celebrities (they call those magazines), or cat food, or sugar with water and bubbles?
Sweating and still struggling to direct you shopping cart, you keep your journey.
The discovery experience
You want to find something interesting to help you in your daily life? The supermarket is there to help you. You only have to know exactly what you want. Spicy sauce? Great, we have a whole section, but not all the spicy sauces are there, there are others in the refrigerators and a couple in the famous “ethnic” food section.
What about a bottle of wine? You can only choose by name and price. Filter by region? Filter by rating? Filter by pairing with lamb chops? Good luck with that. You most probably will try to find the nicest label you can afford. Hit or miss. Discovering new products at the supermarket only works as an after thought, you see a shiny label a nice box and you think “uhmm maybe I will enjoy this gluten free, vegan, non-gmo, no added sugar, family owned, organic, fair trade, natural toilet paper”, you don’t know nothing about it, no reviews, no extra information, no way to tell if it actually works. Nothing. But you trust the supermarket due diligence.
The paying experience
Imagine you are in your favorite eCommerce website, and you add all things to your cart. You are ready to pay and at that moment the site tells you that there are four people in front of you. One of those is a 400 items filled cart that will need to be scanned one by one by a person that probably might be new to the job that day and don’t know the code for Grapefruit. Ah, I forgot to mention, everything that is not pre-packaged, needs to be weighted at the register. You know you only want to pay for your ultra strong no-sweat deodorant, but you have to wait.
Then, you discover this website offers an “Express” option for people with 15, or 12, or 10, or 20, or 35 items or less. It all depends, no body can tell. But you go there, and there are only 2 people in front of you. Thank God. Unfortunately, one of those, who bought a canned soup, found it is dented and wants one that is in perfect condition. The cashier now needs to find another clerk to go find the replacement. Hopefully that person knows the supermarket better than you. You are still waiting. Good thing, you are not standing in line.
It’s your turn, and the cashier will do their best to pass your products and pack them into bags as fast as possible, they know you are in a rush. Or not. Who knows, it all depends on the weather and the last number of the lotto.
Now, stop imagining a virtual supermarket. You are now in a real supermarket still in line behind the 400 item person. You are gonna be late. But who cares, they know you went grocery shopping.
The transportation back home experience
You exit the supermarket, either with one bag or twenty. You try to remember where you parked. Find your car and open the trunk. Put everything you bought in there. Then, you are done. You can leave.
Oops, no. There is one more part. The filthy cart must be returned. You are a good citizen so you put it back where it goes, unless you are in a rush, you are late for a dentist appointment, or you are plain out dick. In that case, you leave the cart in the most inconvenient way possible for everybody else. In a planter, in the middle of the road, next to other carts left behind by people like you, anywhere except the place where it needs to go. Is the supermarkets problem.
Then, if you have items that require refrigeration, you know you can’t do anything else but drive as fast as you back home. Otherwise, the ice cream will become sundae or milkshake, the chicken will start to rot, and the fruits will ripe.
The review experience
Don’t tell me that you leave reviews for the items you buy at the supermarket. You go row by row, item by item, leaving a review that will help others to have better information about the product. Nobody does. It is not advantageous for the supermarket to allow that.
So, you go online and find a place to cry your pains. Reddit, twitter, your grandma’s facebook. If the pain is not that hard, you just throw the item away. Hoping to remember not to buy it next time. The supermarket knows you might. They have all that data. You don’t.
You hope at least to win the Monopoly.
The re-stock experience
Now, after a couple of days, or weeks – depends on your budget – you need to get more food. Which items? Almost 90% of the same ones you bought last time. Can you go a have them ready for you? No.
You need to start the process over and over and over. You fill frustrated and highly contempt with the fact that we still live in a time where we haven’t replaced that obsolete system. You write an article with the hopes of venting your anger, mostly because you know the milk is almost over and you already did cardio today.