Merchant Information Exchange With a Handheld Device
Original Publication Date: 2002-Jul-28
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2003-Jun-21
Often, when shopping in a store, there are items that seem to be impossible to locate. Sometimes you just know they must be there but you cannot seem to find them. Usually when people have this problem, they either seek out a store employee (who often does not know) or just give up and stop looking. Sometimes they may try again at another store with a more familiar layout. There are various ways for the merchant to help shoppers find items, each having a significant drawback. One option is to have paper handouts for shoppers to take with a generic list of items and their respective locations (e.g. bread aisle 10). Arranging to have paper handouts for each shopper is highly inconvenient, and therefore it is rarely used by stores. Also, when any item location changes, all the paper handouts are no longer valid. Furthermore, only so much information can fit on a paper handout and still be manageable. If a merchant wants to include more details about item locations (e.g., Anchovy Paste Aisle 12 middle right side), then the handout becomes too large and difficult to manage for an average shopper. If the merchant leaves off some details and only includes generic categories of items, then the usefulness of the list is dramatically reduced. An alternative approach that has received lukewarm reviews is to have a Kiosk located somewhere in the store. Because it is interactive (i.e. the shopper can use search features), finding item information is significantly enhanced. One of the biggest limitations with Kiosks is that they are not with you when you finally decide you cannot find that item for which you are looking. In fact, even if the store did have a Kiosk, unless the shopper is already familiar with the Kiosk location, they would first have to find the Kiosk before they could begin to find their item. The Kiosk might even be located at the other end of the store from your location, so that to use it, you might have to walk to the other end of the store. In addition, since only one person can be using a Kiosk at a time (and multiple Kiosk stations are expensive), you might have to stand in line to use it.