Monday, July 25, 2011

Polly's Free Shopping Spree On Amazon...

Hello again, and welcome back to my blog! For those of you who are not already in the know, I do Shop & Scan. It's not so much that I have aspirations to be a checkout girl in my local supermarket, it's more a case of participation in a giant on-line market research project.

Essentially the idea is that all shopping brought into our home, which has been purchased either by ourselves or on our behalf is scanned using a special barcode reader, information regarding pricing, etc is input and finally the information transmitted via gps to Kantar Worldpanel. Admittedly this is something of a nuisance. Life would be so much easier if I could pack the scanner into my handbag and take it shopping with me, rather than unloading all my shopping, scanning it and eventually putting it away.

Some items are particularly troublesome, for example fresh fruit and vegetables often need to be weighed. Special offers can be a nightmare altogether principally because the original barcodes don't count anymore. A special page in the coding book provides the appropriate codes for these items, and while it may sound as though it's handed to you on a plate it's not always as simple as it may sound. Not all special offers fit snugly into the options provided and bizarre choices have to be made in an effort to fulfil the appropriate criteria.

Worst of all are those items bought on what I like to call 'knock-down'. The original bar codes have been covered over by especially sticky labels which often tear or pull the print of the packaging as they're peeled back. This is a pain in the proverbial, truly it is! In addition to this, if the knock-down products are fresh meat it can be difficult to enter the correct price structure due to the fact that the scanner doesn't recognize that meat can be bought on special offer. The fact that I buy as much meat on special as I can, is obviously beside the point!

All this said, Shop And Scan is probably one of the best paid market research schemes available. Just last week I cashed in the points accrued this year and treated myself to at least three hair treatments with red Henara henna hair dye (it isn't available here in Ireland), a new digital kitchen scales and a heavy duty can crusher (for all those stainless steel food cans) - all from Amazon. Admittedly the postage costs were probably a little higher than I'd have liked, but they were paid for by Shop And Scan too!

In the past I've bought a different brand of henna hair dye, henna red hair shampoo and a new methylated spirits stove for my camping exploits all courtesy of my Shop And Scan activities. This is just on Amazon. I've also opted to be paid in National Book Tokens which I've put towards the cost of the children returning to school for the Autumn term, given as gifts to friends when stuck on short notice invitations, etc.

To be honest, Shop And Scan's a nuisance. It slows down any shopping spree dramatically and not all members of the family are willing to commit themselves to the effort required, or things get put away absent mindedly and then it's simply too much trouble to take them back out again for scanning! This said, it does pay handsomely and it's an interesting way to monitor your purchases. Through Shop And Scan I've got myself more organised in the shopping department and realise now that impulse buying can be a real problem.

This is why I've also converted to shopping on line and having it delivered to my home at a convenient time, thus reducing the whole cost in terms of time and effort dramatically. By my reckoning I am far less likely to pick up a bar of chocolate or an item of clothing, a dvd, etc when someone else is doing it for me and to that end I am probably saving more than just calories and time!

Taking into account petrol costs, wear and tear on the car, my nerves and everything else this form of shopping has given me more than it cost me and I will happily pay the bill for it to be delivered. According to Google Maps it will take me 36mins to drive there and back again, not including parking and the approximate cost of this trip in petrol will be €6.12 at most, assuming I take my preferred route. Add to this a minimum of thirty minutes shopping time, plus ten mins at the checkout and a further ten minutes transfer to and from the boot of the car I think I can safely say that I'm quids in (honestly!)...


Ann said...

It does sound a bit of a fiddle but the reward sounds pretty handy! I'm lucky in that I can walk to my small local Co-op - though its pretty basic. I won't shop at that supermarket beginning with the letter T as I believe its destroyed choice in our small town - apart from the Co-op the only other food shops to survive are two butchers. But if I had to drive to get groceries I'd consider delivery too. After all, it was the norm when I was a child.

Polly Pierce said...

Hi Ann! When I lived in England I would've agreed with your sentiment totally. Like you I saw T's and the like anhiliate the small grocers, butchers, green grocers and even the local fish shop, to say nothing of the pork butchers at the top of town.

However, since I came back to Ireland the local chain of supermarkets were taken over by this company. I firmly believe that there are two types of shopper in this country, ie those who use what used to be Quinnsworth and those who use Dunnes Stores!

There is a resurgence of people who buy small and local, but sadly this is often expensive and impractical for people who work according to any kind of schedule!

Markets are almost unheard of over here unless they're a 'Farmer's Market' in which case they're often expensive and imported goods on offer and they're very few and far between!

I'm actually quite envious of you being able to walk to your Co-op, as the local petrol station is two and a half miles down the road. The local shop which had run for over fifty years closed a while back and the village has never been the same since...