GPS for Groceries: Aisle411 Might Have the Right Ingredients

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Sometimes when I enter a large space with the intention of performing a specific task I quickly lose all my energy and fall to the ground. For instance looking for a moon rock at the Air and Space Museum, or a particular gift item from a cacophonous mall: Down for the count. Looking for cumin at the grocery store? Catatonic.

I’ve written about this before but with a solution in mind; I invented a product proposal that would satisfy my needs — at least at the grocery store — and waited for someone to build it. Kind of like Fred Wilson does, where he publicly wishes (via his blog) for some feature enhancement or app improvement and magically, in return for public acknowledgment, scores of developers race to come up with something first. Gratis of course — anything for Fred.

In my case nobody wrote a line of code — thanks a lot development community. Fortunately my need was shared by at least one other overwhelmed (aka lazy) shopper, and this one is actually a company that just released a sweet update to its product.

Aisle411 begins with the notion that you have a recipe (or want one) and then need to check off items on the list. Pffhhsst, recipes. That’s fine for some people but often I just want to gather my goods and go. Aisle411 solves that too.

Essentially the iPhone app allows for four key things:

  • Shopping List: Create, organize and share multiple shopping lists from your phone
  • Recipes: Search over 130,000 recipes to add to your shopping list and cookbook
  • Search: Quickly find the location for what you need inside stores
  • Navigate: Find the fastest route through your store in select markets (like turn-by-turn directions)
It’s that last one I find so alluring. It’s not just a solution to my utter loss of energy when entering stores, nor just a wonderful and perfectly logical tool for tackling such a task as shopping for groceries. What this really is is a ultra-local peek into your future. If placement and even stock on shelves can be tracked and displayed remotely it’s an obvious next step for local stores to compete on availability in a new way (do they have it now? … how about now?) and possibly for consumers to reserve or place on hold remotely — perhaps at a price.
But I’m happy to stay with reality for the moment — the product that exists and is ready to use today.
Aisle411 is close enough to un-reality to be cool. And it let’s me stay inflated around the grocery, which is cooler.