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By sara Jnsson

Virtual supermarket of the future


Few buy groceries online even though the Net offers many interesting possibilities. With its project, Interactive Grocery Shopping of the Future, the Copenhagen Institute for Futures Studies is exploring how an Internet-based trading platform can be designed to meet users recognized and unrecognized needs. The results will form the basis for a new kind of virtual supermarket aimed at expanding Web-based grocery retail. Read about the project, which will be made public in May 2010.
You work until 4PM, rush to pick up the children, then shop for dinner. The children are tired and crying, you have a headache from your stressful day at work, and, when you do finally get to the shop after fighting traffic they are out of organic milk. Only two lines are open, so of course you choose the one that has technical problems. An hour and a half later, you are finally home, unpack, and put the food and in the refrigerator. All that is left to do is actually cook dinner and eat it. Many most? of us recognize ourselves in this description of grocery shopping, which is often fraught with delays and stress. Grocery shopping is a necessity, because otherwise the refrigerator would stand empty, but must it be so difficult? Why not make many of your grocery purchases online? You can order quickly and easily, your account will remember what you bought last week, and the goods are delivered to your door. The elderly can order exactly what they want without having to wait for the social services helper to show up once a week. Those who want a healthier lifestyle can be helped by a digital custom shopping cart that offers recommendations, product labels and nutritional information. The possibilities are many, but developments so far have been modest and slow. Therefore, the Copenhagen Institute for Futures Studies (CIFS) decided to learn what keeps consumers from buying food online. About a year ago, the project Interactive Grocery Shopping of the Future was launched with the support of the Danish Authority for Enterprise and Construction. CIFS goal together with project partners Coop, Center for Cultural Analysis (CKA) and Art of Crime is to find solutions to the problems we experience with online commerce and find answers to the questions facing food retailers moving online.

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virtual suPerMarKet oF the Future By sara Jnsson

experience-oriented grocery shopping

You cannot see, feel or sniff the groceries you buy online. So how do you know the food is fresh? How do you make sure you get the cut of meat you want? One of the biggest challenges of online shopping is the transfer of sense impressions. Our groceries physical appearance is important to us and often far more important to us than the looks of books or tickets, things most people buy online. The reason why grocery shopping has not yet moved online is more complicated than that. More than 40,000 Danes buy from rstiderne, an online supplier of organic vegetables that delivers to the door. What makes rstiderne and other online suppliers successful? Can those characteristics be transferred to a grocery concept that is even bigger? Can the disadvantage of not being physically present be offset by other benefits and experiences? The questions are many and complex. It is about our daily routines and our behavior, society and development and the demarcation between the physical and the virtual. One current trend is the growing convergence of the physical world and the virtual a new hybrid space. Hybrid space is used to illustrate that the Internet is not a place, but a condition you are more or less always in. The Internet is everywhere, and our daily lives are affected by it. The Internet is increasingly on your mobile phone, and thus a tool you access wherever you are. This and technological development in general mean e-commerce will offer unprecedented opportunities in the future.
three scenarios for the grocery trade in ten years

your insurance, doctor and day-care centers. Naturally, your goods are packed automatically. As a customer, you trust the automation, which guarantees all is as it should be. The problems with this scenario are about personal integrity, security and control: do you feel watched over or monitored?
Scenario # 2: Open Society. The Open Society is

one with creativity, co-creation and a million different networks. Here, copyright and patents are on the wane. Instead, you share your knowledge through open source and open content on the Internet. You like to interact with others, but not necessarily physically. Some of your best friends are people who live on the other side of the world, whom you have never met in person. Various virtual solutions make geographic proximity less important. The Open Society has brought great democratization that includes grocery retail, which has moved from push to pull. Consumers increasingly decide what stores offer, and physical stores struggle to cope. As a result, they function more as collection centers for your purchases, which you might make from several vendors at the same time. From push to pull also means you more often buy directly from producers such as farms, fishing cutters and breweries. There are many challenges in the Open Society logistical, among others but at the same time, new, interesting avenues open. Can stores survive if they do not adjust your requirements?
Scenario # 3: Simple Living. Simple Living puts your feelings and values, and those of others, at the center. Wealth is not only about material things: time, space, peace, environment and nearness are also important. This is why meaningful work is more important to than a high salary, and why you spend much time with your family and close friends. Grocery retail can be described as a virtual version of the corner shop, where the emphasis on advice and dialogue, while you, the customer, pays for it to be simple. You trust that all is well, while market devices help give you the information you need. One major challenge for shops in this scenario is to create confidence and establish close customer contact. Will you trust your grocer? how to get the pieces to fit together?

In its future supermarket project, CIFS has sketched three illustrative scenarios. Each has unique traits and they differ from one another. But all are based on the assumption that most groceries will be sold on the Web in ten years. In this way, we illustrate how todays trends can affect our consumption future. Probably we see elements of all three scenarios in ten years. The three scenarios are:
Scenario # 1: Big mother. Big Mother is not the same as Big Brother. This is not about big brother is watching but that big mother is watching out for you. With Big Mother, technology is the focus, making you more comfortable and effective through control, monitoring and automated systems. It also affects you when you buy your groceries. Intelligent, high-tech packaging ensures your food is fresh, and lets you know how old the meat is, for example. A surcharge system rewards or penalizes you for the healthfulness of your buying, depending on your profile. Your purchases are tracked and set in relation to

To integrate rationales, CKAs empirical evidence and analysis tool (see sidebar), with IFFs scenarios and futures analysis, we use creative, future workshops. We invite project partners and users, as well as experts in fields such as logistics, e-commerce, food and cultures to work with the collected material and define barriers and challenges. In future workshops, we can experiment, test and develop new ways to involve users, which is one of

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virtual suPerMarKet oF the Future By sara Jnsson

the projects sub-goals. In the next stage, the collected material will be transferred to virtual experience agency, Art of Crime. Against the background of the knowledge generated, the agency will develop an interactive concept for the future of grocery retailing. The Interactive Grocery Shopping of the Future project ends in May 2010 with a conference. Many elements must be linked: present and future, user-driven innovation, future workshops, consumer analysis, barriers and different methodological tools. We hope the results will reflect a holistic approach to grocery shopping, because grocery retail has many more players than just consumers. Therefore, we are trying new paths to find answers to the questions (and more) that should be the basis for a new type of e-commerce platform. The interactive grocery retail is, in short, based on users and offers a supermarket that is adapted to them, and where there is emphasis on smooth solutions, virtual experiences and interactivity.
sara Jnsson is a research assistant at the Copenhagen institute for Futures studies. saj@cifs.dk

hOw we ShOP: Seven RatIOnaLeS the Center for Cultural analysis (CKa) project has carried out a major ethnographic study, using interviews and observations, to identify how different consumers shop and their arguments for shopping as they do. one way to understand the different shopping behaviors is to apply rationales, or logical principles, developed by CKa on the basis of their study. a rationale is an analytical tool that highlights special features or patterns in the empirical material. seven rationales have been developed in light of consumer arguments, actions and self-understanding. # # # # # # # 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 time economy logistics experience / pleasure health Morale social interaction

what IS uSeR-dRIven InnOvatIOn? the danish authority for enterprise and Construction defines user-driven innovation this way: user-driven innovation is a systematic approach to developing new products, services, processes, organizational forms et cetera based on based on investigation and involvement of users lives, identities, practices or requirements, including non-recognized needs that are expected to be expressed later as demand from major user segments. users are defined as broad consumers, customers, employees, businesses, partners, suppliers or citizens. investigation and involvements is defined as observation, interviews or users active participation throughout the innovation process. source: http://www.ebst.dk/brugerdreveninnovation.dk/tilskud

several rationales will always be at work in any shopping situation. a consumer may want to shop cheaply (economy) and quickly (time) for organic products (health or morale). rationales are a good tool for understanding the different principles on which people act, and as they relate to or use of procurement situations. We can also use rationales to analyze future shopping needs. are they the same in the future, or have some been replaced? For (utopian) example, if we have unlimited funds in ten years, we will no longer need to act on the economic rationale.

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