I was headed to work this evening And I stopped at a local grocery store to buy my lunch and dinner. (I work 5pm—5am) To buy prepared meals is not my nature and I have fought it every step of the way. I do it because I have so little time at home and I hate to spend it cooking and cleaning. The up side is that they have a wonderful salad bar that is reasonably priced when you compare it to the prisoner portions you get from places like Subway. I can buy a salad big enough for two meals at around $8!
Unfortunately for me they were out of large bowls which meant I'd have to fill two small containers. No big deal unless you are on your way to work and you remember what a nightmare it can be to check out from this grocery store at 4:30 in the afternoon. (I'll get to that in a minute) So I caved and bought a salad half the size for around $5. At this point I know it's not the best deal but, I'm paying for another level of convenience. I should be thankful that I didn't have to slave away packing my own salad with those clumsy tongs. Bending low to reach the shredded carrots as nervous sweat, beads on my brow because I spot Susie senior citizen creeping up on the few remaining pieces of chicken.
I grab my 3 things and head to the cash registers. I already know that I can't waste time in a traditional line occupied by those who are doing their weekly shopping. The Express checkout line is a joke at best (It usually stretches 6 or 7 deep) So I'm left with one of 5 "self checkout" lines. Sometimes there are only four of them available which baffles me. I won't even make an attempt to guess at why these would ever be closed.
So there I was, at self checkout with my meager purchases waiting for the lane to clear. I go through with the skill of a seasoned veteran. Typing the UPC code so fast that the annoying computer voice didn't even have time to keep up. I take a real chance and swipe my credit card before she tells me "please wait, system processing". My stuff is in the bag, my card and wallet are in my back pocket and my hips are prematurely heading for the door forcing me to stretch out in order to get my receipt.
From start to finish my visit was a disappointment. I couldn't buy what I wanted because there wasn't a container the right size. I paid more than I should have for what I did get and I was once again stuck in long lines.
During this whole process (which isn't nearly as bad as I've made it sound) I had an idea. What if ALL of the self checkout lanes were open ALL the time? What if there was a lane for people with 5 items or less? What if, and this is crazy, people looked around once in awhile with an investigative glance? "Hey look, there's a guy behind me in work clothes with only three things. I think I'll let him go in front of me and my half full shopping cart".
Two of these suggestions require changes in daily operation. One of which would require the changing of a sign (5 items or less). The last idea only requires a level of awareness just above that of a man on the verge of his Sunday afternoon nap. Let's look up from our phones and change the world!
It seems to me that a business wants to be as profitable as it can be. One way to make that happen is to get as many people in and out of your store with the least amount of hassle. If they have a good experience, they'll be back! I for one (and I know I'm not the only one) go to this store every day when I'm working. A few small changes could make all the difference in the world. And for heavens sake, find out who's ordering the large salad bowls!
How would you make this store operate more efficiently? Comment below.
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