I am not sure why, but I have always loved grocery shopping. Ever since my mother started leaving a blank check and a shopping list on the kitchen counter as soon as I had my driver’s license, I’ve thought of grocery shopping as a fun game.

When my husband took an early retirement, he took over our weekly grocery shopping. Fortunately, he is willing to follow the list I write and use the coupons I cut out to go with the list.

His shopping experience has made me see how confusing and frustrating grocery shopping can be for many shoppers, and why most people simply give up and do their shopping without paying much attention to prices or savings strategies. Even shoppers like my husband who are working diligently to follow a specific list get thrown off track by mislabeled prices on promotional items, items stocked in seemingly unrelated sections, and cashiers who do not understand how certain coupons or promotions work.

Fortunately for shoppers who can relate to my husband’s experience, tech companies are working on practical solutions to make shopping and saving much easier than it is today.

Silicon.com recently reported that Hewlett-Packard is working on developing a shopping kiosk system that could revolutionize the shopping experience, called the “Retail Store Assistant (RSA).” Although Hewlett-Packard is far from introducing this technology nationally, the company says its close to implementing pilot programs in select areas.

According to the company, the RSA kiosk would make it easy for shoppers to save money with coupons and sales, and shoppers would not even have to cut out and organize coupons in advance.

Shoppers would simply scan their store loyalty cards at the RSA kiosk when they enter the store, and they would get a printed list of special discounts and shopping items based on their shopping history and grocery list created online from home. The list would note special store sales on preferred items as well as coupons available for the items. Rather than having to cut out coupons for each individual item, the shopper would simply have the cashier scan one barcode on the printed list that would have the coupon information for every item.

The list would also make it easy for shoppers to find the items they need. On the back of the list would be a map of the store and the location of all of the listed items. Shoppers could go directly to the items without having to search every aisle.

The RSA list will even help shoppers in their planning so they will not forget to pick up an item they needed. For example, the software will know that the shopper buys milk every week, eggs every other week, and flour once a month. The items would appear on the list based on timing, even if the shopper forgets to add the item to their list created from home. When the cashier scanned the barcode, the purchased items would be deleted from the list so that each week’s list would be timely and accurate.

I can see that technology like this would be a boon for shoppers like my husband. The map alone could save him hours of frustration a year. Automatic coupon savings would make every shopper feel like a brilliant consumer, and would be reason enough to continue shopping at the stores that feature the RSA kiosks.

Unfortunately, as with any new technology, I am afraid we will be waiting for quite awhile before this service starts at our stores. In the meantime, I think I’ll go back to doing our family’s grocery shopping. I miss it!


Stephanie Nelson shares her savings tips as a regular contributor on ABC News’ “Good Morning America.” You can find more of her savings tips in her book “The Greatest Secrets of the Coupon Mom” and on her Web site at www.couponmom.com. She can be reached at shoppingmom@unitedmedia.com.