National Editor Tom Karst
National Editor Tom Karst

  We here at the Karst household are tentatively in the market for a "Smart TV," the kind of television that can access the Web. During this process of searching out the lowest price, I have been Googling "40-inch smart TV" and reading customer reviews posted on various sites.

Amazon has a ton of customer reviews, like this one from Kyle in Kent, Wash.

Whoah, I really did my research on this one (I always do when I make huge investments into things that I plan on owning for a long time) and I am.... et cetera, et cetera....

We are social creatures and find comfort in hearing the opinion of other consumers, even if they are identified by the moniker "Kyle in Kent." We can take these opinions in stock, and perhaps invest those electronic verdicts with even more weight than the confident spiel from the salesman at the brick and mortar store.

These online  consumer reviews have also come to our local supermarket.  For example, in Google Plus, the local button  invites the opportunity to search for local businesses. I type in "Aldi" and found this consumer review:

Aldi is a Grocery store from Germany. This one is clean and the staff is nice. I don't know what they take for cleaning but they should change it because the smell is a bit wired. Nevertheless I can recommend this Aldi store at 135th Street (Santa Fe) in Olathe. Be aware of that due to the custom in Germany you will not get any free bags and you have to provide a quarter in order to get a shopping cart. The time you pull back the shopping cart after you are done, the quarter gets reimbursed. This place gets a nearly full moon from me.


Then I typed in Hyvee and found this review at the ready:

I've been shopping at this location of Hy-Vee for 9 years. When I moved into Kansas, I'd never heard of Hy-Vee. This store is really excellent: clean, good selection, fresh meats, fresh produce and very helpful and happy employees. I've noticed that my grocery bill is lower when shopping at Hy-Vee and that makes me feel like I am getting good quality food for a decent price. If it's raining, snowy or my children are being crazy, I can get "drive-up" service and they will put my groceries in my car for me. I really like this store and would absolutely recommend it to others without hesitation.” L

Then Price Chopper:

“For my money, this price chopper is the best in Olathe. It's under renovation and will soon be the cleanest around. They have a pretty new staff, all of which are helpful and friendly.”


Another said the Olathe store was "ghetto" compared to another new Price Chopper in Overland Park.

Supermarkets in cities of any size will need to be attuned to the social media verdicts consumers are rendering about them in forums like Google Plus. Some consumers new to the community will look up these stores and - much like I am searching for a quality hdtv -  will make decisions based on what they read.

The unfiltered and honest  feedback should help stores better assess how they are viewed by consumers and also prompt them to chime in when appropriate.

And by the way, thanks Kyle in Kent. I think we might go with the Samsung.