Forward planning

Some chap in front of me in the queue at Sainsbury's today bought £190's-worth of Budweiser and a packet of paracetamol. Admirable forward planning.

He then rather spoilt matters by attempting to pay in cash, using Scottish bank notes. Checkout chaos ensued.

[Yes, I am aware that ‘forward planning’ is hideously tautological.]

A Lidl touch of glamour

The glamour has gone out of supermarkets.

—Prof. Jeremy Baker
ESCP Business School, Oct 2014

Prof. Baker pretty much hits the nail on the head, here: what modern supermarkets most certainly lack is glamour.

When I pulled up at Sainsbury's last week, would it really have been too much to ask for the foreign gentlemen in the car park who offered to wash my car to have worn something a bit more glamorous than damp-looking, brown overalls? Sequins, perhaps, or maybe even a top-hat. Furthermore, within the store itself, I can't help thinking they missed a golden opportunity recently when they installed new spotlights in the bananas section. Would a chandelier or two really have been all that out of place? And as for Deidre on the checkout: a very nice lady, I'm sure, but I reckon someone more of the calibre of Scarlett Johansson, say, or Cate Blanchett, might add a certain je ne sais quoi.

Carte Blanch

Sainsbury's new checkout lady?

Of course, where the supermarkets really missed a trick was at George Clooney's wedding last week. A civil ceremony in Venice is all well and good, but I'm sure, for the right financial incentive, the star of Ocean's Eleven would have been just as happy to lead his blushing bride down the Home Baking aisle at the Dewsbury branch of Lidl.

Tesco and Sainsbury's are in a bit of a mess at the moment. Put me in charge, and I'll soon add a touch of Hollywood sparkle.

Check it out

This article misses the point:

BBC: Alarm over shopping radio tags

…We are all familiar with barcodes, those product fingerprints that save cashiers the bother of keying in the code number of everything we buy. Now, meet their replacement: the RFID tag, or radio frequency ID tag.

These smart labels consist of a tiny chip surrounded by a coiled antenna… While barcodes need to be manually scanned, RFID simply broadcasts its presence and data to electronic readers.

The article goes on to explain how these RFID tags will introduce all sort of (legitimate) privacy concerns, whereas the big supermarkets simply want them to help automate the transport of goods to the shelves.

That's as maybe, but the real reason why the supermarkets want to introduce RFID tags—the one you never hear them mention—is that the tags will save them the bother and expense of employing hundreds of thousands of low-paid checkout and shelf-stacking staff, thereby increasing their already massive profits.

And will we be prepared to stand for that? Of course we will, if it makes our tins of baked beans a couple of pence cheaper. Even more so if it means we don't need to go to the supermarket at all.