With the iminent strike looming over it’s head, I remembered a patentable idea I submitted to Ralphs several years ago, which I’m sure they have promptly filed in their round filing cabinet. In case they are reading this, please implement this idea to make our lives better, instead of causing suffering with strikes.
So here is an open letter to Ralphs:
First, update your website so that Ralphs Club members can login and create a shopping list. There should be a mobile version for iPhone and PDA users. All family members should be able to login using their own username and choose either their own private shopping list, or the global family shopping list. You can add to the shopping list from home, work, school computer, or even your browser enabled cell phone or PDA.
The Ralphs website currently has recipes online. The user should be able to automatically add the ingredients from the recipe to their shopping list, minus items they already have.
When a family member goes to any Ralphs, they will go to a kiosk at the front, swipe their Ralphs Club card and get a printout of their shopping list, with the aisles listed next to each item, sorted by distance from the entrance. This way, a family member can go to any Ralphs, even an unfamiliar one, and be able to find the items quickly.
Also, if another family member has already printed their shopping list elsewhere, but not checked out at the cashier, a warning will show on the shopping list, and on the kiosk screen to let you know that somebody else is also shopping right now and you may need to call them to coordinate your shopping.
And finally, when the shopper is finished, they swipe the Ralphs Card at the cashier and all the items that were purchased will be automatically removed from the shopping list. This way, if a spouse goes to Ralphs later that same evening, they don’t have to worry that somebody else had already bought some of the items from the shopping list because the printout will show only the items that still need to be purchased.
So what’s in it for you, the multi-billion dollar corporation? Well, other than increasing customer satisfaction and thereby retention, you have new ways to track problems in your store. For example, if you find that many people who have a particular item on their shopping list, do not seem to buy it at a particular store, the item’s shelf positioning may have to be checked. If many people seem to have similar items on their shopping list, group these items closer together. The list is endless. So what’s in it for you? Profit.
All of this could be implemented basically all in software except for the kiosk with printer at each store. If implemented correctly, perhaps you would make billions more, then be able to pay your union workers more money, then there would be no strike. Think about it.