Sunday, January 20, 2013

shopping in the fast lane

As a follow-up to my recent shopping post "Shop Like An Italian," I discovered an innovative shopping service during my Italian holiday stay that puts the shopper in great control while saving time, managing sticker shock and delivering shopper savings.

The service named "Salvatempo" (loosely meaning "time saver” in English) is credited with literally putting the shopper in the fast lane by shaving about 20% of the shopper’s total time spent shopping when avoiding the typical grocery store process (a.k.a. “the queue” here in Italy).

Salvatempo leverages a handheld mobile device (shown above) that shoppers use to pre-scan grocery items in order to expedite checkout.

While the idea may sound new and innovative to American shoppers, the Italian supermarket
Coop” introduced the handy barcode reader in 1998 outside Florence. In 2012, a free mobile app was introduced for the iPhone, iPad and Android that let’s shoppers use their personal digital device versus the handheld scanner tools available in supermarkets. You can watch this YouTube video to view the app in action. 

While Salvatempo makes total sense to me, the service is available in only about 200
supermarkets in all of Italy. How interesting the Salvatempo service is 15 years old and it was introduced by a grocer with origins dating back to 1891.

Here's How Salvatempo Works: 
  • Shoppers voluntarily sign-up for the free service and link it to their cooperative membership account. 
  • Upon entering the store, shoppers insert their Coop membership card to activate the mobile device, or they can simply activate their digital app.
  • Shoppers scan items and enter quantities as they are placed into their shopping bag or cart. If a shopper decides to put an item back, they can edit their digital shopping list.
  • When ready to leave the store, the shopper enters specially-marked lanes and hands the mobile device to the checkout clerk who prints a paper receipt and validates payment.
Why It's Smart:
  • This is a honor-based service that trusts shoppers to properly scan each item; although random accuracy audits may be made; another example forming my belief that there's more shopper trust here in Italy than in the US.
  • The service helps prevent sticker shock at the register by allowing shoppers to always know how much they will be spending and allows users to remove items from their “digital tab,” if desired. 
  • The mobile service also provides information on coupons and rebates, empowering impromptu shoppers to save on the go, when away from coupons which may be at home.
  • There’s no need to remove items from the shopper’s cart or shopping bags and pack them again, saving time and energy for the shopper and the checkout clerk.
  • The service reduces line wait and puts the shopper in control. What's not to like about that?
As the gap shrinks between conventional ways of shopping and mobile advances, like my favorite digital shopping list app, it’s quite possible that the American shopper will soon view the paper grocery list a thing of the past.

I'm OK with that!

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