Patrick Weltert

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How can you make online grocery shopping more attractive? - is 3D technology an option?

Current online grocery shopping platforms are inconvenient, use small visuals and offer a tedious experience.

Are there ways that online grocery shopping can become more interactive? Would people prefer a 3D game-like shopping experience or a ‘real-life’ experience that they would receive in a physical grocery store?

Why hasn’t 3D technology taken off when the technology has been around for a few years now? Is 3D technology to solution?

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    Sep 20 2012: @patrick, we're actually in the process of an entire redesign and rebranding, which is why I came on board. As far the trust factor, we're working on that now. Its not really the farmers who pick the food for the customer, but the Relay staff who pick the food from the farmers or from grocery stores and other vendors and then deliver it or present it at pickup for the customer. Trust is a hard one and we're working on it, but I don't think technology solves this problem.

    In fact I think trust might actually be more related to expectations rather than just trust, but it doesn't replace it.
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    Sep 16 2012: I agree with @erudite explorer. 3D doesn't solve the problem that we want to feel, knock, smell our produce. Or we want to work with people we trust to take care of that for us. Its an expectations issue. If produce were super consistent like a McDonalds hamburger we could use 3D technology to help encourage people to purchase it, but then no one would want it, because... well, it had become a McDonald's cheeseburger instead of the organic living thing it was meant to be.

    Groceries on the whole are different than produce. I think we (Relay Foods, on the East Coast) are handling this better than others at the moment, but there is SO much to learn all around. It's a bridge that has to be crossed, and won't be for everyone, but we've already found that the convenience of getting locally grown, healthy food, alongside your everyday groceries collected and delivered to you is something people are really excited about.
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      Sep 18 2012: I definitely also agree that the technology at the moment is not that far in order to be able to simulate feels, smells or similar product aspects. But who knows, technology might be able to solve these issues soon.

      In terms of the Relay Foods: I really like the look and feel of the Homepage, but have a question to the business model. As far as I understand, Farmers pick the fruits for the customers, so they won't have this experience of self picking either? How did you achieve that customers "trust" you to pick the right ones?
  • Sep 14 2012: Online grocery shopping? Please stop right there! Let people walk around and find their groceries. Shit even that one excuse to actually meet people!
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    Sep 14 2012: You can't get around the problem that when I buy fresh produce I choose an individual item (Lettuce, Steak, Orange etc) based on its smell and feel as much as its appearence. You just can't do that online. Plus you are only garaunteed you get the one you choose if you pick it up with your own hand.
  • Sep 13 2012: Could? Yes.

    Maybe interactive goggles. But, there is a power of pulling out cash or a card and doing it your self in public. There is also the sounds, smells, sights, and discoveries of the experience in person. Finding a new product, smelling fresh breads, finding a special bargain, satisfying a curiosity about a taste...these are immersion type sensations.

    There is no doubt an audience now, such as germophobes, invalids, general couch potatoes, the lazy, and the tech savvy elitists. However, it will take generations before people no longer want to go to the store to by the things they want to ad variety to life.
  • Sep 13 2012: It is about delivery.

    With all the search agents out there, perhaps you could set up a list of standard items you always buy, set delivery schedule, and then check for best price vs delivery costs.

    There will always be a desire to go and buy the different items that make life enjoyable directly.
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      Sep 13 2012: Do you think a 3D-real life like experience could give you that feeling that you descried in your last sentence? Or is this too early? Generation Z and Y(partly) grew up with the internet and use it for everything. They communicate online, play online, hang out online, don't you think they would maybe also like to shop online? it's convenient, they have more time for themselves etc.?
      • Sep 14 2012: Could? Yes.

        It is too early and it may be a long while before folks give up the sensations associated with going to the food market for an ant-septic experience. The smell of fresh baked good, fish, fruit, and coffee are not easiily simulated and some enjoy the sensory stimulation.

        There are folks like germophobes, crowd haters, anti-social types, couch potatoes, invalids or disabled, geriatric, etc. that might jump at the chance for such technology, but there are many that like the trip to market for other reasons. Being able to be surprised by a sale, find a new thing to try, get just the right cut of meat or piece of fruit, etc. really enjoy the experience.

        We are spending a lot of time in front of computers in other areas of life now. perhaps thsi one will wait a while...
  • Sep 13 2012: I think the problem of buying groceries online is that you need food "now", and not later. So it is not about the ads, but more about the delivery.

    If you make it possible that your online customers get their groceries same fast or faster than they would get them by buying them the "old-fashioned" way, than you make a business.

    If you are slower, than you can just make a business with groceries that the local shops do not list, but this business is already taken, restaurants and gourmet people order their stuff there.

    The average joe will not buy groceries online, as long as he has the possibilty to get his things in real-time. And you can't sell grocieries cheaper than offline supermarkets, as you have the same costs (you need to keep even more products in stock, it has to be transported to your warehouse, people have to sort and pack the orders) and additional costs for delivery that either you or the customer has to pay.

    You can wait for a tv set or clothings a couple of days, but if your fridge is empty, you need it right now. You don't want to depend on your postman, you could not, even if you wanted, as you have to eat.
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    Sep 13 2012: What you're asking for is more about the design of the user experience.

    So, where does one perform online grocery shopping? What is one's objective in grocery shopping? What is the purpose for making grocery shopping online or making it 3D? Why would one want to shop for groceries online rather than in real life? Why would one want to shop for groceries in real life rather than online?
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      Sep 13 2012: I agree it's all about answering these questions. But I was more looking at retailers that have an existing platform and assumed they did their groundwork right.
      I believe the online shopping objective is to home-deliver groceries (or whatever product) in order to save time and for convenience.
      If you have a look at current online shopping pages however, they are tedious and most of the time you hardly find the product if you don't know the brand or its name.
      I believe 3D technology could catch people who never shopped online before because they weren't happy with the technique, were not born in the internet generation, or were simply not interested in online shopping because it didn't offer an experience.
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        Sep 14 2012: So how exactly would making it 3D improve the shopping experience for shoppers? What does 3D have to offer that previous 2D didn't? What does 2D offer that 3D doesn't have?
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    Sep 13 2012: I believe if you combined 3D technology with a good and efficient search function you could make a customers life much easier. Just imagine rather than having a list of products with tiny pictures where you have to click through 10 pages in order to find your product (because you might not know what type of toothpaste you are looking for) you're standing in front of a virtual shelf where you exactly know where your product is... ? I think this would have potential if it's not too much 2nd Life like.
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    Sep 13 2012: Thank you for this link. It is definitely related, as it falls in the categories of Online / mobile shopping. Although most of my interest lays on how to make online shopping more attractive a system that combines online and mobile shopping could be a solution. Any other comments or opinions?
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      Sep 13 2012: More integration and automation. You could input the age, sex, weight and special diet needs of the people that you're feeding so the proper amount of food per week is assured. You could have a virtual market where you can pick out what you like and then have the software recommend ways to save money and/or eat healthier as well as make recipe suggestions. The mobile could snap pics of barcodes so that anything you find in "the wild" can be added to the likes list. The software can learn the likes and needs of the household and become a fully automated shopping assistant.
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        Sep 13 2012: I like the concept of software that learns... but my question with this is would anyone afford to implement such a software? And what do you think of a 3D environment? Is it too much game like or do you think people would like to have an shopping experience that "hits home" and is close to real life but still quick?
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          Sep 13 2012: I think that a 3d virtual grocery store would be cool, but more of a gimmick than a functional feature. After all, one of the best parts about shopping online for most people is not having to go to the store. I'm not sure that you'll find too many people that enjoy grocery shopping enough that an immersive 3d simulation sounds like fun.

          This wouldn't be the first time today that I was wrong.