A designer comes up with a much better supermarket receipt

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/05/13/a-designer-comes-up-with-a-muc.html


Who decides the categories? What if I want differing categories not present? Can I use a UI to customize them via my Supermarket’s app/site on my shopping profile?

Frozen burritos could be meat, frozen, or snacks…for my household, they are snacks for quick after school items to tide them through to dinner.


So, “better”, then


In other news: CVS is now printing the first half of War And Peace on all of their receipts.


I love this! The cooperative grocery where I buy all of my food was breaking out P6 items for several years. Principle six is cooperation amongst cooperatives, but ended up being a great stand in for local, community owned, etc. I started making adjustments to buy higher percentages of P6 foods. It was a great way to get feedback on my shopping habits. I made enduring changes in how I allocate my food dollars to support small, cooperative, and local businesses. Alas, the P6 program has ended.


The core assumption is that the supermarkets want us to be aware of where the money goes on a grocery purchase. I see no evidence of this when I buy groceries. Their goal is not transparency.


Grocery store is pretty easy for me- Mt. Dew and Marie Callander.

I keed - it isn’t that bad. I am actually down to one Mt Dew a day on the week days.


A datavis engineer should know how difficult it is to compare circle areas by sight.


The only real improvement I see here is that the text itself is formatted with a little more white space so that it’s easier to read. Of course, this also means that every receipt will be longer, so that adds up to a lot of extra wasted paper if it were to be adopted on a wide level.

The categories you can make an argument for, but a lot of stores already do that. The infographic at the top is difficult to read, because you’re trying to compare the areas of multiple circles, which is not something people are fantastic at. A simple pie chart would present the data much more clearly and concisely. The circle plot thing here seems to be visual design for the sake of visual design, not because it’s more practical or readable.

The bars also seem worthless. They seem to be trying to indicate the cost visually, but there’s no scale on them, so they don’t provide much useful information. They do, however, take up a lot of page space, and would require more ink to print, increasing print time for the receipts.

Overall, it seems like design at the cost of usability.


I heard they’re getting into the publishing business. They print a chapter of a random serial on the back of your receipt. If you get chapter 1 and it’s interesting, they hope you’ll buy something else in hopes of getting chapter 2 on your next receipt.

They could even tie different products to different serials. “Find out what happens next in Captain Proton versus Chaotica’s Space Fortress of DOOM … if you buy Band-Aids and cough drops on your next trip!”


The only thing a receipt needs to tell me is how much I paid for each item. Currently grocery stores fail at this. I don’t need to know the regular price, the sale price, the super sale price, and the coupon price. Condense this down to final cost and coupon.


Isn’t the main purpose of a receipt to ensure you’re not getting ripped off? I’m the guy who goes through my receipt like a hawk to make sure I wasn’t overcharged on an item.


Nicely done working in a reference to one of the strangest/bestest Star Trek episodes ever!

Slow clap.

I like the idea that it is broken down into categories (my local Safeway has been doing that for years). If it had more actually useful info like… “Hey Billy, looks like you are buying a lot of 70/30 generic ground beef and taco shells every week. Did you know 90/10 ground Turkey from ((insert conglomerate name here)) is better for your heart AND the planet? Here’s a coupon for 20% off this week only” Or maybe medical? “Billy you aren’t buying enough fiber at ((conglomcom name here)) pick up a free sample of Metamucil and here’s a QR code for a 2 for 1 deal.”

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Wish Ms Lu would use her skills as a data visualization engineer t Netflix to design a better user interface for Netflix.


I was just talking to Market Basket customer service about this! Now they won’t let me back in the store!

Ooh, ooh! I’m a designer! (Actually, I am I should really be more serious about that). And I also have an interest in statistical graphics…

Classically (he says, with much gravitas), the designer must first determine what are the most important problems are to solve, arr. In doing so, their own personal opinion must be disregarded. For is it worth jack shit, obviously, until some evidence for that opinion is objectively gathered (burp).

So my design eyebrow waggled when it saw the phases, “Of the use cases I had brainstormed…” “I found it [most] useful to understand… ” and “I would be interested in seeing…”

Now, I’m not saying that those ideas are necessarily bad. Rather, a lot of “design” these days is done because somebody in a position of influence thinks they’d rather like it that way. In this case, there doesn’t seem to be much wrong with using bar charts to indicate expenditure. The overall execution could do with some refinement. The blobs at the top are, given the known inferiority of area compared to length as a indicator for this kind of thing, I assume some attempt to make the receipt look less boring - and that’s OK I guess. But the bars don’t have to be so chunky. Save some paper, I would.

The trouble is, how does she know these things are solving the right problems? For that, I am afraid, I would not hire her.

(more whisky needed now)


“Hey Someguy, looks like you are buying a lot booze. Again. Maybe get some bananas or something. Oh, and here’s a coupon for Alka Seltzer.”


Thermal paper is frequently coated in BPA, for which it has been banned in NY Suffolk County. Stick with a real printer.


Less paper is the best design.

Receipts are already pretty much completely unrecyclable.


The main purpose of a receipt is to ensure the store isn’t getting ripped off by their employees. By conditioning customers to always expect a register-printed receipt for all purchases, the store owner ensures that all transactions are done via the register, and not simply pocketed by the untrustworthy clerk.

Of course, this was the rationale over 100 years ago, so things may be different now.