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Business Idea: Online Grocery Shopping Experience

I had this idea in the early 90’s when a new programming language came out called VRML.

It was a way to show things graphically a lot more easily. The programming language doesn’t really exist anymore, but with the increases in bandwidth since then, this idea makes more sense than ever.

Companies have had a rough time making grocery shopping work.

In a way, it makes sense, people like to know exactly what they’re buying. But in another way, it doesn’t make sense that people ae still going to do their groceries in person.

There are those who are very picky and will always want to touch, check things before they buy them (particularly the fresh stuff like vegetables). But with good staff, this can be helped… and for many, the convenience outweighs this. It’s habit, really.

Grocery shopping, in its current form, really doesn’t make a lot of sense.

  1. You drive there (usually)
  2. Park
  3. Walk from the parking lot
  4. Grab a cart
  5. Walk around, put things in your cart (if you have a list, you try to keep stuff organized)
  6. You wait in line at the cash
  7. You put the food on the conveyor belt
  8. You watch the prices to make sure they scan right
  9. They put the food in bags
  10. You take the bags, put them back into the cart (where the food was a minute ago)
  11. Take them to the car
  12. Put them in the trunk
  13. Drive home
  14. Take the good out of the trunk
  15. Carry it into the house
  16. Put it in your kitchen
  17. Unpack


Skip 1-4.

You sort of have 5 but the list is easier to manage when it’s sitting on the desk.

Skip 6-15. The delivery company will take it to your place. You just have to put it in the kitchen and unpack.

Actually, most companies will take it to your kitchen for you. This would leave you only with step 17.

The old way doesn’t make sense.

Add the face that seniors have more difficulty for both transportation and carrying things home…

And though there are 24 hour grocery stores, many of them close at night. Those who work odd hours (or even who are too tired in the evening) have to arrange to get there during the hours they’re open.

It makes sense that the future would include online grocery shopping. Online, you can shop 24 hours a day. If the store isn’t open, it doesn’t matter, your order will be filled the next day. But actually doing the shopping can be done when it’s convenient.

The problem lies, in my opinion, in the systems the way they are. Often, stores that offer online shopping (though it’s great that they do, I admire them for stepping up to the plate and offering a new service to their customers).

But there is a better way.

My idea all these years has been a system that basically replicates the whole grocery shopping experience. See it a bit as a video game… but where instead of collecting points, you’re purchasing food.

You would go into the virtual grocery store and move around the different sections as needed. You would see tomatoes, and be able to order them in a logical way… 4 tomatoes. A lot of online grocery stores make you have to think every time… They ask for qty. Do they mean how many tomatoes or how many pounds? How many tomatoes in a pound approximately?

Anyways, you go through the aisles, put things in your cart. But the “middle part” of the grocery store is where this really shines.

If you look at a box of cereal, you could zoom in, look at the side, the back, the label, the ingredients. It wouldn’t be that difficult to do. It would require scanning all sides of each product. Yes, it would require a bit more manpower but the volume of orders this could generate should more than cover the costs.

The company that makes the produce could do the scanning of the products (which would be convenient but would require them having access to the products), or it could be done at store level.

It would need to be kept up to date… But imagine being able to pick up a can, and see a hand around it to have an idea of the actual size of the can… Instead of having a 796 ml can and wondering “Is that the size we usually get? Is that even the brand we usually get?”

This could also level the playing field, letting smaller stores offer delivery services by outsourcing the technical services to the company that builds this system.

I look forward to the day where someone’s done this. Because I’d love to shop this way. In the meantime, I have to sort out from text descriptions what I’ll be buying in my next delivery order.

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