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Hiku review: This tiny scanner is the ultimate tool for creating grocery-store shopping lists

Michael Brown | Dec. 2, 2014
I suck at grocery shopping. If I remember to inventory my pantry and refrigerator, I inevitably forget to bring my shopping list to the store. That renders my lizard brain easy pickings for the in-store merchandising that triggers impulse buying. I go in needing milk, eggs, and barbecue sauce; I come out with beer, chips, and salsa. If I use the Hiku scanner consistently, it should eventually pay for itself by reducing those impulse buys.

The Hiku produces audible cues after it scans a device to inform you whether each scan was successful, but I sometimes had difficulty hearing the high-pitched tones. A quick peek at your phone will provide confirmation. If you inadvertently scan an item more than once, the app will indicate that you need more than one, which might cause confusion if multiple people are doing the shopping. I don't consider either of those issues to be deal-breakers.

In its current form, the Hiku software doesn't have hooks into any online shopping services, so it can't inform you of deals or allow you to order anything line from within the app. The company says those enhancements are on its development roadmap. My wife likes to participate in the shopper loyalty program that our supermarket chain operates, and she said she'd like to have the Hiku tie into it. That way, she could add current sale and promotional items to her Hiku shopping list (although that kinda sounds like impulse buying before you even step foot in the store).

The Hiku costs $79, so it might take a while to pay for itself by reducing my household's impulse buying at the grocery store. And its efficacy is dependent on your behavior: You'll need to develop the personal discipline to scan or speak the names of your grocery items as you use them up. There are no subscription fees associated with the product, but the company's privacy policy discloses that the it might one day allow third-party advertisers to serve ads alongside its services.

I'll be surprised if the company ignores the potential of that recurring revenue stream, and in-app ads could be annoying if they're not handled well. On the other hand, the privacy policy also states the company will not provide any personally identifiable information to advertisers without your consent.

We've been using the Hiku at home for several weeks, and it's working for us so far. It's simple, easy to use, and effective. I like it a lot.

 

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