Progressive Grocer Independent

OCT 2016

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The Technology Pragmatist E verybody loves cool new ideas, but sometimes it's sur- prising how much time and effort it takes to make good ideas actually work. People forget that Apple didn't invent the MP3 player. In fact, Apple was a relatively late entry into the market, but it was the first company to deliver an MP3 player, the first iPod, that normal consumers could easily figure out how to use. e MP3 player was a big idea, and eventually, pretty much everyone got one, but until Apple figured out an intuitive, easy-to-use interface and operating system, the only people using MP3 players were technology geeks. I bring this up because of an ancient experience and a recent one. e old experience was in 1990, when I was working for a venture capital com- pany, and was asked to look at a new invention — the first commercial self- checkout machine — which was being tested at a Price Chopper store outside Albany, N.Y. I spent the day watching the prototype machine in action. My conclusions from the visit were pretty simple. It seemed like a good idea: Customers liked having control over the checkout process, and the The supermarket industry has embraced self-checkouts, but are the systems a good investment for independents? By David Diamond Self-checkouts: Ready for Prime Time? g e r e o l A good idea needs to be well executed to be of value to consumers, and the seemingly minor executional elements can turn a great idea into a bad product. 26 | Progressive Grocer Independen Progressive Grocer Independent | October 2016

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