/ Food & Drink, Shopping

Would you find a sat-nav useful for your supermarket shop?

supermarket sat nav

Navigating your way around a supermarket at this time of year can be really frustrating; full of special offers and seasonal aisles, it can be even trickier to seek out items like milk, eggs and butter. So how helpful would a supermarket sat-nav be to you?

Back when I was a shop assistant at Waitrose you were expected to know your way around the store. That way, when a customer asked where an item was kept, you’d be able to walk with them to find it.

Very soon I realised I’d gained the ability to navigate my way around most of the big-name supermarkets, as they all had similar layouts.

Enter and you’d be greeted by the fresh fruit and veg, followed by the meat and the bakery, and then the tins. Sugar and dairy products would be somewhere near the back, as would the freezers and the booze.

In fact, I got so familiar with it all that I reckon I would have made a killing on Dale’s Supermarket Sweep.

Lost skill

These days, my homing skills aren’t as sharp, mostly because I tend to shop in micro stores (Tesco Express, Sainsbury’s Local, etc), where the same principles don’t seem to apply.

I’ll spend an inordinate amount of time traipsing up and down the aisles looking for items on my list (why can I never find the eggs?), and I’m guaranteed to buy way more than I’d intended, especially if I spy an offer.

Get me in an Aldi or a Lidl, where everything’s completely different, and I’m totally lost but curiously drawn to the miscellaneous items they display in the middle.

Saving time

What I could really do with is a map of every store I frequent – and that’s why I got a bit excited when I heard about new ‘supermarket sat-nav’ app, Ubamarket.

This app works on your smartphone and gets you to select a participating store, create a shopping list and then arranges the products in the order they appear in that shop’s aisles. This supposedly means you’ll follow a logical route, rather than aimlessly wandering from one end of the store to the other.

What’s more, it apparently also cuts down the amount of time you spend at the tills. As you work your way through your list, you scan the barcode with your phone, so that when you reach the check-out all you have to do is swipe the app at a paypoint and settle up – you don’t even need to unload.

Whether you can actually save money is questionable though; by sharing your shopping habits with the app you’ll receive personalised offers as you shop. This is apparently ‘based on the products you like to buy, without even having to think about it’.

The app is set to be rolled out to 5,000 UK stores including branches of Budgens, Morrisons, Spar and Nisa. Future versions will enable automatic payments via a prestored credit card.

Supermarket sat-nav

While I reckon a supermarket sat-nav app could save me precious time, maybe some pennies and perhaps even my sanity, I’m doubtful it would tempt me away from the reduced section.

How easy is it to navigate your local supermarket? Would you use a sat-nav app when grocery shopping? Would a similar app prove useful in other stores aside from supermarkets?


Is it April 1st?


Supermarket shopping is not my favourite pastime and Tesco has been playing hide and seek with me for years. Being male, I’m reluctant to ask where they have hidden the Marmite (other yeast extract spreads are available). I would be happy to give a supermarket app a go provided it is not used for marketing.

Definitely especially in Icelands as they move their stock around ever few weeks and it drives me nuts

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On the other hand I am not reluctant to complain about missing unit prices. 🙂

Supermarkets regularly move products around, are they going to keep Ubamarket up-to-date?

Can you imagine all those sat-navs? At the end of the aisle turn right. Take the second right. You will arrive at your next product in 30 seconds. You have arrived at the baked beans. Only they moved the baked beans this morning and you are looking at Xmas puds. But on the way to the baked beans you took the first right to look at something else. Recalculating route. Turn around when possible. Take the first right.

It would drive me nuts.

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🙂 It made me laugh when I read the intro!!!

Not to mention the elf’n’safety side of trollies and people colliding as eyes are on sat-navs.

Replanning route….

I just remembered that one and added it in !!!

Finding satellites has a new meaning. They are probably under seasonal goods.

Lovely, Alfa! Really made me laugh out loud!

Since stores don’t lay out their stock in any logical order according to our shopping list, a sat-nav would be no help. We load the trolley in order of weight and bulk with the cleaning products and other commodities at the bottom. Toiletries, tins, cereals, biscuits, etc are next and the fruit, veg, bread, cakes and other fragile things go on top. Frozen and chilled products, meat, milk, fruit juices, eggs and dairy, are put in towards the end so they don’t get warm. In terms of going round the store this might be inefficient but we know where everything is so it does not prolong the experience too much. Rather than have one big unmanageable trolley we usually get one of the smaller ones each. This works better at the checkout too.

For years I have been asking any manager I see on the floor why their stock is not arranged in alphabetical order in each category. They always say because “we have to conform to the computerised layout plan issued by head office”. I then ask them to submit my recommendation to head office but of course I know they wouldn’t dare. I don’t see why the big supermarkets can’t have a terminal with a stock location index on it for customers’ use. Somebody might be able to explain to me one day why the bacon is not next to the eggs and and why the butter is not near the bread [with the Marmite].

Our nearby big Tesco’s has a Krispy Kreme chiller cabinet full of fat and ugly doughnuts. While reading the papers alongside it I observe the people who select them. I rest my case.

“Navigating your way around a supermarket at this time of year can be really frustrating…”

Agreed, but the main problem is negotiating the “zombie hordes” of fellow brain-dead shoppers, as we all make futile efforts to select Christmas goodies for undeserving families and friends, all of whom are are too well off already.

One of my pet hates is when two such zombie clans enjoy a chance meeting and then pause for an impromptu chin wag, leaving the aisle completely blocked by their trolleys (etc.), so that free movement is no longer possible for the rest of us.

Also, if we had the nous to put together a list, we could just order our groceries on-line.

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Superb! This topic is really bringing out the inner comics in force this morning 🙂

Some time ago – when WiFi was starting to appear in supermarkets – I wrote to the MDs of Tesco and Sainsbury to suggest that is would make excellent sense to provide a free ‘road map’ to their stores. The interesting thing is that it already exists, and has done for several years.

Every store that offers online deliveries has a store map and the pickers use a custom-built device to locate the orders for which they’re picking. It would be very simple for those maps (which they have to maintain, otherwise their own systems would fall over) to be made available to everyone. However, as the MD of Tesco hinted, they don’t believe it’s actually in the supermarkets’ interests for people to be able to go directly to the products they want. From their perspective, it’s far more important (and potentially far more remunerative) for customers to keep scrabbling around the store, trying to find that elusive jar of Marmite, because they might stumble over the own-brand Tescmite, and give that a try instead.

The quick and easy solution to this is to stop every assistant you find and ask them the way. If enough folk did that the supermarkets just might cotton on and make their own maps available rather quickly.

“…where the same principals don’t seem to apply” (and they aren’t your spelling pals) and the principle is to disorientate you into buying stuff you don’t really want or need just because you’ve passed by it.

What’s annoying as well is when you do look for something seasonal and you can’t find it, eg mulled wine spice mix, because the whole shop is upside down and seasonal stuff is all over the shop (pun intended). I’m not a male (at Wavechange ;o) ), but I can’t be bothered asking sometimes, so I’ll just make my own mix.

This is all a bit of a joke, surely!! It’s not able-bodied folk with a desperate urge for another useless app on their fashion accessory that need real help. It’s the disabled and especially the blind and sight impaired that need all the help. Priorities !!