Microsoft's 'Smart' Shopping Could Change Retail Forever

Dennis Faas's picture

Microsoft is currently experimenting with one of their first "technovations" of 2008 which, if successful, could forever change the way we go about our grocery shopping.

The new device is a technologically advanced console that assists customers in finding various items on their shopping list. The consumer can also use their cart-mounted device to scan the products as they lift them off the shelves and place them into the cart. With the push of a button, the consumer can also pay for their groceries directly on the cart itself. (Source:

These new "smart" carts have been one of Microsoft's secret projects since early 2007, when the company acquired aQuantive, an online advertising powerhouse. With aQuantive technology, Microsoft can now display video ads on these grocery cart screens.

Microsoft will start to implement these carts in ShopRite food stores, a major food chain located across the eastern United States. Those who hold a ShopRite loyalty card will be able to log into a website and type out their grocery lists in advance. When the consumer steps into any ShopRite store and swipes their card on a MediaCart console, the list will appear before their eyes. The device also keeps a running total for each product in the cart and independently checks off the items from the electronic shopping list.

The system uses radio-frequency identification signals to keep track of the location of the cart within the store. The computed data helps ShopRite understand shopping patterns and the technology has the potential to send certain advertisements to people at certain points. For example, an ad for $1.00 off Cheerios will appear on the screen when a shopper turns into the cereal aisle. (Source:

Microsoft has admitted to still being in the trial stages when deciding how and when to display coupon commercials. Still, advertisers are likely to get more feedback than ever before on which commercials are the most effective, because now customers are able to see the advertisements directly on their cart screens and immediately decide whether to buy the product or walk right past it.

Rate this article: 
No votes yet