In which The Author really needs to make a list
After leaving the library yesterday, I had a last-minute scoot around Iceland in Aberdare, picking up some goodies to put in the freezer. It was only when I got home that I realised I’d forgotten to buy margarine.
This is rapidly becoming the story of my life. I invariably return from a shopping expedition with nearly everything which I’d intended to buy – except the one commodity which I’m short of. Maybe my subconscious is playing tricks on me, forcing me to leave the house on days like today, when I’d have been perfectly content to stay in and tackle my newly-acquired cold head-on. Maybe I need to concentrate more. Or maybe – just maybe – there’s a business opportunity out there, just waiting to be exploited.
Many supermarket customers now have loyalty cards, enabling the companies to warehouse their buying patterns and (supposedly) to tailor special offers to individual shoppers. In reality, of course, the process is a bit more hit-and-miss than that. In the past couple of months I’ve been given at least two vouchers for 20% off own-brand sausages. Pork sausages…
As I said, there are still some teething problems in the system. Whenever Shanara and I went on our occasional lunch dates, we usually had trouble finding somewhere which would cater for both a vegetarian and a Muslim. Most of the time we settled for the vegetarian option, knowing that we were on safe ground.
Boots Pharmacy has recently adopted a new system for customers who are registered on their repeat prescription scheme. Not only will they order the prescription from the surgery for you; they’ll send you a text advising you that it’s ready for collection. Admittedly, there are a few bugs still to be ironed out. Janet in my surgery told me that they tend to order fortnightly, rather than monthly, which means that neither the surgery nor Boots themselves actually know where they are, never mind the patient. But it’s early days yet. In a couple of months’ time, it should sort itself out to everyone’s benefit.
It occurred to me last night (as I was scraping the last margarine from its tub) that a supermarket loyalty card has untapped potential to be of similar practical use. Let’s say, for example, that I go through a large tub of margarine approximately every six weeks. Let’s also assume that it’s approaching six weeks since I last bought one. Now, let’s assume that I’m at the checkout, about to pay for my shopping. When the cashier swipes my card, it would be useful if the till flashed up a reminder to buy margarine while I’m there. It would only take a few seconds to nip down the aisle and pick up a tub. Job done!
Of course, you could argue that the old-fashioned method of actually making a shopping list would be equally effective. But then again, shopping lists are so last century, aren’t they?