Tags: coupons, grocery store, marketing, scan it, stop and shop, technology
A few weeks ago, we had a discussion in my Emerging Media class about new media pushing old media out of the mix. Would the Kindle replace books? Would online news kill real newspapers? Would email mean the extinction of the USPS?
We all decided it would be a very long time before new media completely took over the world, if it ever did, just like the advent of television did not mean the death of radio. Although, there have been instances when a new technology changed how we lived. Remember VHS? What about days before DVR? Alright, are you still listening to cassette tapes? Chances are these products’ successors have a permanent place in your life…until a new product replaces them.
Whenever I see a new product hit the market, I wonder if it will be the product that ultimately changes our lives. I don’t think that people really thought the iPod would revolutionize the way we listen to music when it first hit the market, but now cars are being designed with the iPod in mind and CDs are considered to be from the stone age.
This thought ran through my head when I was at the grocery store last night. Stop and Shop just released “Scan It” which allows you to scan and bag your purchases as you shop, eliminating the need to “check out.” At the end of your visit, you scan your scanner at the register and your total pops up on the screen. Simply pay and you’re on your way!
Now, let me explain one sappy story behind this. There is a lovely little woman named Virginia who has been my Stop and Shop cashier for over a year now. She takes longer than most cashiers, but she is one of the nicest women I have ever met in my life. I don’t mind waiting on line to have good ‘ole Virge as my cashier. Last week, Virginia came in with a cast on her arm. The next week, the Scan It service was available. You want to know what ran through my head? “What if the scanners take over and cashiers aren’t needed? How will Virginia pay her medical bills?”
I know. That’s extreme. But you have to admit that it makes you think. 50 years down the road- will we need cashiers? Or will they just be a part of our distant memory?
Scan It’s Marketing Efforts
Besides being a way to avoid the checkout lines, the Scan It system allows companies to display coupons during the
visit. Periodically, my Scanner let out this extremely loud chime and a coupon for something would pop up on the screen. I always looked. Every. Single. Time. My boyfriend actually got annoyed, telling me “it’s another ad! You don’t need to keep looking at it!”
If I was looking at it every time it chimed, perhaps everyone else was as well. In that case, there is much opportunity available in this technology for marketers. Since shoppers use their Stop and Shop card to “rent” the scanner, there is the potential to gather data on each customer to display the most relevant coupons for them. The vegetarian shopper with a toddler at home may receive coupon ads for Morningstar Farms and Huggies, while the chicken eater with a little pup at home may receive coupons for Purdue and Milk Bones. How’s that for target marketing?
But before we get all excited about Scan It, let’s take a minute to think about Virginia and her livelihood. (By the way, you have no idea how much I wish I had a picture of Virginia to post. It would totally help my argument.)
Tags: electronic reader, Kindle, newspaper extinction
Today, Amazon introduced the second generation electronic reader, Kindle 2. Much like its predecessor, the Kindle 2 functions as an all-in-one magazine/book/newspaper/blog reading device. By “purchasing” a book, newspaper, magazine or blog through Amazon, Kindle owners can have electronic versions uploaded to their devices within seconds. And with enough memory to hold 1,500 books, the Kindle 2 is literally a hand-held library.
Most of us would cringe at the thought of reading an entire novel on a computer screen: the eye strain would most likely cause legal blindness. Not fun. Developers of the Kindle took this into consideration, and according to Amazon:
Kindle 2 is purpose-built for reading with a high-resolution 6-inch electronic paper display that looks and reads like real paper, which lets users read for hours without the eyestrain caused by reading on a backlit display.
What does this mean for hard copy?
Why, oh why, would a person want to tote around paperbacks when they can have their entire library at their fingertips on a Kindle? Well, there are a few reasons:
- Cost– the Kindle comes in at $359. Not exactly a bargain in this economic situation.
- Battery Life– although Amazon claims extended battery life, many testers found the battery draining to halfway after a day of intermittent reading. Your hardcover isn’t going to die on ya.
- Availability of Titles– not everything is available on the Kindle. I’ll give it to Amazon, they do have an incredible selection but it’s not perfect.
- The Feel of a Book– or a newspaper, or a magazine. There’s something nice about curling up with an actual book on a rainy Sunday. For some reason, I don’t think an electronic version will be as, well, cozy.
- Borrowing– you can lend a paperback to a friend while you read another. Not the case with the Kindle. You buy it, it’s yours. No sharing. If Amazon allowed you to “lend” the title to other Kindle users, I would be impressed.
Overall, it’s a pretty cool product. I have a feeling that a couple years down
the road, Amazon will work out the kinks (slow page turning, battery life, cost, etc.) and a far superior product will emerge. I don’t think hard copies have anything to worry about until then. I don’t forsee enough people wanting to shell out $359 for something when they can borrow a book from the local library for free, pay $1 for the newspaper, or read a blog on the computer for free. Let’s talk again when the Kindle 5 comes out.