What features would you like to see in future supermarkets?

So asks The New York Times (TimesSelect).  Randall Williams responds:

I like to try interesting recipes which often have exotic ingredients.  But I often don’t need a whole bottle or bunch of a spice or other ingredient that I might never use again.  It would be great to have an “assembly area” similar to the deli section where I could take my recipe and get a tablespoon of this and an ounce of that, measured into little plastic cups that I could take home to cook with.

The excess bundling is a form of price discrimination.  If you can’t be bothered to go to an ethnic market, which is both cheaper and sells in more flexible quantities, they figure you will pay the higher price.

As for me, I used to wish for shorter check-out lines, but now usually I get them.  Dark chocolate is there too.  I still would like ready-to-buy, truly fresh cooking stocks (beef and chicken), better magazines, and home delivery. 

We should expect supermarkets to overinvest in encouraging impulse purchases.  (Wegman’s should put a given item in only one place and yes I will learn where that is.)  Maybe that is the economic problem with home delivery.  Smells, squeezes, and full-size items — not Internet links — sell profitable foodstuffs.  The boring bulk stuff which is easy to order over the Internet also brings the lowest profit margins, I believe.

Here is a (non-gated) article on how supermarkets are evolving.

What do you wish for, and what is the analysis behind your wish? 


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