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Wednesday, February 6th, 2008

A number of recent articles, here is one, covered the announcement of Microsoft’s partnership with MediaCart and Wakefern Foods (ShopRite) to deliver interactive shopping carts into ShopRite stores.
Working at a retail focused agency, it is always interesting to see investment in our arena by major media players, e.g. CBS buying SignStorey.

Along with the creation of Nielsen In-Store and P.R.I.S.M., these types of announcements bring increasing credibility to the industry and attention to the power of in-store marketing. Further, this represents a marrying of online technology (Atlas) and an in-store vehicle, which shows a very positive evolution of thinking.

However, all that excitement aside, I have a certain amount of skepticism about the success of this vehicle. I think for a select group of early adopters, it will be embraced. But for many shoppers, are they really ready for this?

Grocery shopping used to be simple; go to store, get cart, put stuff you need in it, sometimes there were signs that told you what was on-sale. Now, you can enter your shopping list online before you go, it’ll download to your cart computer; and tell you about specials on a contextual basis when you hit the right aisle. As a marketer, again, think this is fantastic. Love the blend of technology and context to deliver truly targeted ads. However, I’m just not sure your average shopper will think they “need” all this, but that’s just my opinion. Time will tell.

On a side note, (and I owe this to a colleague at another in-store company) what happens when carts are stolen? Your average shopping cart costs something like $150 (i looked it up). What happens $1,000 shopping carts start disappearing? How are retailers going to feel about losses in that arena on a daily basis? I mean this in all seriousness, and would love to hear how the deals are configured and if they account for loss like this.

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