Expectations of productivity (Supermarket version)

Image: PEXELS

Most supermarkets can improve on things.

The checkout. Not all supermarkets will not have like Amazon Go system, RFID soon.

Every time I go through with the cashier, I feel they can be more efficient with their movements. If a cashier can save 10 seconds per customer, this worker would be able to handle more customers, and the customers see the queue is moving faster than other queues. A small change in how the cashier works would change customer experience. We are not expecting to have a conversation with them. We just want to get out as quick as possible. The cashier could ask customers to cooperate with them to speed things up.

Self-checkout machines. I think the technology hasn’t been what we expect yet. The machines don’t seem to be a simple scan-pay-go. You are expected to do quite a lot of operations apart from the fact that the machine often requests store worker’s permission to continue scanning because a scan goes wrong or the system cannot identify a product. These machines require trial-and-error for the user, plus the store person who is in charge of the section should observe customers behaviour closely and check how they perform.

Large trolleys (shopping carts). Good for individuals but problem as a whole.

Moving around with a trolley is not easy. It’s easier to put things in the cart, but it’s not easy to move around in busier stores. Here in Australia, trolleys are large. It is about one meter long plus a person pushing it, so that definitely needs ample physical space for moving around. It often blocks other customers because we place the trolley next to us while we are browsing the products. It also blocks the path for other customers going through. (It is out of the question that the workers’ blocking the path for putting products on the shelves.)

Trolleys are good for individual customers, but at the same time, it creates problems with the whole experience. The problem above is just one of them. The other is customers abandon the trolleys at the car park. Customers ignore that they have to put the trolley back to the dock, but leave it where their car was. This creates another problem. It’s difficult to collect them, therefore there is a shortage of trolleys in the store.

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My expectations may be my ideal shopping experiences, but these problems are solvable. If the supermarkets care more about how we shop. It’s not only making lower prices but also about putting more thought into customers’ behaviours and the process of how customers shop. Supermarkets could ask customers something to do in order to improve the entire experiences such as how to park the trolley while you are browsing products without blocking others. Please ask customers how to queue without blocking others. Please ask customers more clearly what you want to do.

Store space and lowest price have a limit. Services, intangible services and giving customers better experiences need to be the focus. Competitors can sell products at lower — there is nothing special about that. However, if customers have better experiences, they remember and will come back. Customer service starts from the entrance of the building or the parking lot. Think about how customers shop.

FYI: You’ll be shopping like The Jetsons pretty soon http://www.smh.com.au/business/retail/you-ll-be-shopping-like-the-jetsons-pretty-soon-20180119-p4yyn2.html