The revolution of grocery shopping

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 20th June 2008

US company Ikan is threatening to revolutionise the way consumers shop for groceries with the launch of a new product scanning device.

The product, which costs $400, allows consumers to scan the barcodes of products they have just finished or are about to finish so that it can be added to their shopping list automatically.

The Ikan device has a colour screen, laser scanner and a Wi-Fi antenna to enable connection to the consumer’s home network. Once a product is scanned the device will search through a database of about one million products and display the product name on the screen in front of the user. For example, a consumer might scan a bottle of ketchup and in a matter of seconds the words “Heinz Ketchup 750ml” will show up on the colour screen. Then, when the user decides it’s time for their list to be purchased they simply go to the Ikan website, check their list and click on the ‘Deliver’ button. The groceries will then be delivered to their doorstep at a specified time.

A ‘voice reminder’ button allows consumers to speak into the device to order products with no barcode, and other products can also be added online. The system even provides advice about whether or not a product is recyclable when each item is scanned.
The product was developed by four entrepreneurs with young families looking for a way to eliminate grocery shopping trips and save valuable time.

The system relies on retailer support and New York based supermarket chain D’Agostino has been the major supporter of the new technology. The service is currently only available in New York but, with steady success in this area since its’ introduction at the beginning of the year, the company is seeking to expand.

It could be anticipated to be very popular throughout America as consumers begin to embrace technology to save time on supermarket shopping. Already, a large number of American consumers purchase their groceries online and the self-service checkouts at supermarkets have also been met with approval.

In Australia, however, consumers have been reluctant to use online grocery shopping; and self-service checkouts have only been introduced this year by Woolworths, despite the availability of the technology for a number of years. The potential success of such a product in Australia would therefore be limited at the moment but, as Australian supermarkets enhance their technological systems and consumer approval of online shopping steadily improves, the system could be a hit in a few years time.

Also, recent research, conducted by NCR Corporation, suggests that Australian consumers are fond of self-service technology implying that technology like the Ikan could be well received – provided consumers can warm to online grocery shopping. The study by NCR found that, together with New Zealanders, 61 per cent of Australians said they were “much more likely” to choose self-service, well ahead of the nine other countries in the survey, including the United States/Canada (55 per cent) and United Kingdom (49 per cent).