Brave New Supermarket

It’s Wednesday and time for my guest Blogger to take over again. Enjoy it!

I’ve borrowed two-thirds of the title for this week from, as you will know doubt recognise, the famous Aldous Huxley novel. This is not because I’m going to try and emulate his literary prowess but because the words encapsulate what I’m going to write about today. You will need to have a good and creative imagination but I hope you will be able to embrace the idea that follows.

However, before getting “stuck in”, as we say, I couldn’t resist a couple of bits of trivia connections. You may remember the blog on 27.9.12 (The Lion Saltworks and Anderton Boat Lift) which mentioned the discovery of polythene at one of the Brunner Mond Company sites in Northwich (Cheshire). Well, in the 1920s, Aldous Huxley actually worked for a time at another Brunner Mond chemical plant in Billingham (Teeside, North-East England) and it is believed that the name of his character Mustapha Mond (in Brave New World) owes something to his experience there. (Mustapha comes from Mustapha Kemal Atatürk, 1881-1938, the first president of Turkey.) In a previous blog, 20.6.12 (The end of freedom) I mentioned Plato’s The Republic in which he wrote about the way society would function better if people were categorised into different classes. The difficulty for us is that he wanted people to remain within that class for the duration of their lives. Huxley takes up this theme but goes even further with the idea. The State will control the birth process of human beings who would fulfil each of the functions required; further control was to be imposed by limiting how far each person could develop intellectually & physically in order to prevent people moving from that particular class. Now we’re seriously into eugenics.

Ok so back to today’s subject. You remember the blog 17.10.12 (The reality (?) of mobile phones)in which I mentioned my frustrations on a supermarket visit. I was thinking of how, when the shop gets crowded, people are bumping into each other’s trolleys and can’t get to shelves because people are blocking their way. I also did think about a way round this and this is where my new scheme, my original idea, comes in. Before you dismiss it just think about it and I hope you will see the advantages.

The first thing to say is that what you are about to read is revolutionary, in more ways than one. (You will see why soon enough.) Instead of going into the shop you will remain outside at all times. (The outside area will of course be covered so in bad weather you are protected from the elements.)

You begin by backing your car into a marked bay which is at right angles to the shop. Once in the bay a barrier comes down in front of your car which does not lift until you have paid the bill. The marked bay is close to a revolving belt, similar to the idea in an airport at the baggage reclaim but in this case it is horizontal not angled. The customer chooses the items they want from a computer touch screen next to their parking bay and revolving belt. This belt moves clockwise in a rectangular loop into one end of the shop and out of the other. Inside there is a belt down the centre of each aisle which goes back underneath to the start point of the aisle. It’s a vertical loop instead of the horizontal one which takes the stuff outside. There is sufficient space either side of the belt for staff to walk up and down to the items required by the customers outside. It is slightly higher than the main belt and at right angles to it. It deposits items picked onto the rectangular loop which then carries the item outside to the waiting customers who simply pick them up and scan them before putting them in their bags or directly into their car boot. Each item has the bay number which ordered it on a sticky label or tag. The customer then scans it to confirm the order or replaces it if not right item. Once you have all your items you simply press “Finish & Pay”. (Remember the barrier won’t lift on the parking bay until you have paid.) Here is a rough drawing of how the system would look. Please excuse the quality (art is not one of my gifts – and I did say rough):


Line drawing of scheme at supermarket

Of course depending on the size of the supermarket they may be able to fit 20, 30 or more cars along the front. I used 15 just for illustration purposes. I’ve also considered the option of allowing people to send their orders through on the internet with an ETA so that most of their stuff, if not all, can be got ready to go on the belt when they are parked in a bay confirming their arrival.

Now just think about that. No more wandering up and down aisles; no more getting blocked by insensitive shoppers on mobile phones or chit-chatting with their friends in the middle of the aisles; no more queuing at the check outs; no more trolley pushing (so shop won’t need them any more!). How good is that?

I feel a visit to the patent office coming on, followed by Tesco, Morrisons, Sainsburys, Asda (Walmart).


One response to this post.

  1. I always say an idea should be tried, whenever possible, if it sounds decent and feasible. Other than the high overhead, I see nothing horribly wrong with your idea. I would suggest an emergency button by staff in case of a severe medical need or some such by the person in the bay. I like the Internet idea much better, but I am all for Internet buying.


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