A little secret

Posted on: January 15, 2008

So Microsoft is partnering up to deliver the ‘next generation shopping experience’ throughout malls, supermarkets and grocery stores in America, through the amazing MediaCart. It’s futuristic and fun and will of course lend it self to all kinds of free-shopping-hacks. It seems the basic functionality will be to provide a sort of in-store gps navigation to find items and manage the sum of your shopping, while, no surprise, delivering target ads based on previous shopping patterns. The operator (shopper) locates the item he/she wants to buy, scans its bar-code with the on-board scanner and places it in the cart. When leaving the store, the sum of the scanned items is transferred to the register and the shopper pays the amount due.

I love the futurism of it but the whole ad-thingy is as always scary… also I can’t help but wonder what prevents the user from NOT scanning an item and just placing it in the cart as he/she shops away. If you look through the cheesy marketing video on the link below, I bet that’s where that smug smile is coming from at 04:35… “I stuck in an extra six-pack and you will neeeever find out, muhahahaha”…

Me being negative?



14 Responses to "A little secret"

I’m guessing the odd missing six-pack now and again is a rather small price to pay for information as invaluable as behavioral patterns in consumers, as well as having a good delivery device for advertising. The whole thing is very clever and futuristic indeed. But a question looms… is clever always a good thing? I don’t think there is any going back on the path that where are on, but I do miss the simplicity of the mom and pop store.

We actually already have that on the two biggest retail chains in Sweden, ICA and Coop. They both have scanners you pick up at the entrance and scan your stuff while you put it directly into your bag and just leave the scanner and pay at the exit. And guess what, you have to have a member-card (icakortet/coopkortet) to be able to use them. They also make profiling on that of course. When you pay you can be randomly choosen to show all the things you bought so that you don’t get an extra sixpack with you :)

And I guess that if you are found out to be “forgetting” to scan things a lot, then you will be choosen more “randomly” in the future.

This has been available in most ICA supermarkets since 2002-2003.

Oh, so there was a difference. In sweden we only have the scanners so far, and they don’t show commercials on them. Instead you get profiled commercial home to you in the form of cupons.

You’re right, the member cards have been around for a lot of years now, and with them customer profiling of course. This is just a development of that idea I guess.

If one does not like it one is not obligated to sign up for a member account. Besides, the member benefits aren’t that great. At least from what I gather from my experience with the coop card. Consequently I’ve stopped using it.

But scanners and stuff are neat and fun to use. It beats having to check out at a normal register for sure.

One thing I really like about it is the map-and-guide function. That’s something I would really like to see more of…

Also, I didn’t know it was becoming that common in Sweden? That’s cool. There’s nothing like this in Japan that I know of, but our toilet seats sure beat yours ;).

The functionality here is of course great, the problem is the ever increasing trend of companies exploiting customers as much as they can, which is of course easiest to do when introducing a new concept that we haven’t gotten used to as a non-exploiting one before.

This reminds me of a number of similar stupidities here in Sweden:

– A transport company changes their trucks from gasoline-driven to biogas-driven. If you want to get your delivery by the new environmentally friendlier fleet, you have to pay extra.

– Microsoft recently updated (or downgraded rather) their xbox dashboard. Now, all who don’t subscribe to their online service have to wait two additional weeks before new game demos are available to them for downloading. Nintendo did a simliar thing with their Wii a few months ago.

Oh, I should add – this was a response to the view that one has the option to not have a membership card or what not. True, but the issue is that these stupid exploits shouldn’t be accepted at *all*.

Another example:

– American airports now offer an option to register yourself as a True Patriotic American With A Shiny Smile And No Bad Intentions, letting you skip the extremely stupid and provoking security measures at airports – giving birth to the possibility of saying “Hey, if you don’t like it, just get one of those. Or do you have something to hide?”

The solution should of course be to stop the stupidities.

Saw a horrible episode of some ricky lake-stylish show, Jordan something, where he applauded citizens who went around knocking doors in neighbourhoods where sex fellons – who had served their time – had moved in, also putting notes on cars with this information.

Again, Orwell was WAY off. His dystopia became a utopia, and then surpassed by far.

also, could you increase the size of your comments a little bit?

hmm I’ll see what I can do… I’ll have to hack the theme css though….

Peter; you wrote about the American airports offering a registration system to skip security hassles. I looked around for some info but didn’t really come up with anything, do you have a link or two with more info?

Peter; about the font size of the comments (I assume that’s what you were referring to). It seems you have to pay money to get some kind of subscription that allows you to save changes to the css, so I guess we’re out of luck there…

From the wp team:
You can edit your CSS and preview the changes for free. If you would like the ability to save your changes and make your design visible to the public, please purchase the Custom CSS Upgrade.

Thank you for the theme change – not as minimalistic but a lot easier to read.

As for the big brother airport stuff, it’s called “Trusted Traveler” – thankfully it caused quite the uproar. More info here:

http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2005/06/orlando_trusted.html (with links to follow)

and of course here:

Happy reading

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