A concept dreamed up by a Russian inventor could mean the end of the weekly supermarket car park nightmare if it comes to fruition. There’ll be no more trawling around, waiting for shoppers to load up their boots and go, no more parent and child space faux-pas... It’ll be heaven in a Honda as consumers won’t have to even get out of their cars to stock up on life’s essentials!
Here’s how it’ll work, according to Semenov Dahir Kurmanbievich, who has previously filed a patent for an innovative dentist drill that can repair tooth cavities as it goes along.
The drive-through supermarket will look something like a fully-enclosed petrol station, with dozens of vertical conveyor carousels, all bearing the groceries and dry goods you’d expect to see in a regular shop. These belts will be in almost constant motion, so the durable industrial chains from Renold would be a good investment for the construction company.
Shoppers drive up to these belts and reach through their window to scroll through each shelf using a touchscreen, then they simply pick up their items and place them on another belt, which takes them to a staffed kiosk to be scanned. The scanner operator rings them up and bags them, then takes a card payment before handing the bags back to the driver in time-honoured fashion.
So far so good – this new idea speeds up the shopping process, prevents the huge frustration around parking spaces and then “losing” your car when you come out if you have a poor sense of direction. However, is Dahir’s idea likely to replace traditional supermarkets? The answer is no, not likely.
A handy addition
As great as a drive-thru supermarket sounds, it’s likely to occupy the same sector space as drive-thru fast food places – a handy option for those in a hurry. It’s possible that larger branches of traditional supermarkets will use drive-thrus as add-ons to existing premises for commuters and time-pressed customers, rather than rebuilding altogether.
Staffing levels in this Brave New Waitrose will need to be higher than in the main building – one operator per kiosk – and the upper floor warehouse workers are another cost consideration. They’ll be working constantly to keep their belts filled, and there may need to be on-site engineers to help with problems – “…frozen chicken jam in Kiosk Five…” might become a regular backdrop to a grocery run.
Because of these factors, it’s likely that the drive-thru shopping option (shoption?) will carry a surcharge to cover these increased costs. Given how willing customers are to pay online delivery charges, it shouldn’t be a problem, but it will limit the customer base somewhat.
There’s also the fact that there will be at any one time dozens of cars and motorbikes in an enclosed building. How will the emissions be dealt with? It’ll be impossible to keep the air clean and safe, quite frankly, so it may well be the case that only electric cars are allowed on the premises – brave new world indeed!