I’ve just gotten back from the coolest grocery shopping trip ever.  Stop & Shop has just started this new program called SCAN IT! which seems to be the way we’ll buy groceries in the future.  Exciting.

You grab a little handheld computer/scanner device at the front of the store, swipe your Stop & Shop card, and then run around the store scanning the things you buy.  Then you just bag them right into your cart, scan your card at any checkout (automated or real-person), and pay.

The device periodically beams you special offers as digital coupons, which are applied as soon as you scan the item they’re for.  And special scales in the produce and bakery sections let you weigh your items, then print a custom barcode that the scanner can use.

My Dad predicted a version of this a few years ago, and his initial ideas would make this system even better.  First, since it’s tied to your Stop & Shop account anyway, they should set up a website where shoppers can build a shopping list before hitting the store.  Then, the handheld scanner downloads your list at the store, and keeps a running list of what you’ve bought and what you still need to get.

Second, a database of where items live in the store would be perfect as a handheld reference.  Taking it one step further, why not stuff a GPS into the thing, and let it guide you down the aisles toward your items (the ones that you’ve added to your online shopping list)?  Then, the little computer will know what you need to buy, and organize them in the most logical order so that you only have to canvass the store once, through the most efficient route.  Like UPS delivery systems for grocery shopping.

But still.  I feel like I just got back from the future.  The future is cool.