Thursday, March 25, 2010

A Trip to the Grocery Store

DSC03109.JPGImage by kballard via Flickr
I started working over 30 years ago when I was 15 years old.  My first job was working in a convenience store running a cash register and dipping ice cream cones. I worked there for a year before I got my first job in a grocery store.  When I first started out, I had two primary jobs, bagging groceries and loading groceries into cars.  I would have shifts when all I would do is work outside loading cars and gathering carts.  I even remember helping customers into their cars during a hail storm.

As the years went by, I stayed in the grocery industry for about 26 years.  I worked in the stores through my college years and eventually worked in the corporate offices in a buying capacity.  During those years, I have seen a lot of changes in the industry, from manual cash registers, to scanners, to self checkout lanes.  As labor costs continued to rise, I saw services like loading groceries into cars practically disappear.  You can't find a grocery store parking lot that did not have a cart corral to put your cart into after you rolled it out to your car.

The reason I bring this up, is that I had to make a stop at my local grocery store this evening on the way home from work.  This particular store had been undergoing a major remodel of the store.  (I hate when they do that, I can never find anything after a remodel.)  The first thing I noticed when I got out of the car was that the parking lot spaces had been freshly painted, and all the cart corrals were gone.  My first thought was, "Great, now I have to walk the cart back to the store after loading my car," and my second was that the parking lot would be littered with carts.

I stopped by customer service to ask about the missing cart corrals.  They informed that in fact they were gone permanently.  She must have detected the look of agitation on my face, because she followed me and offered to explain the reason.  The store was now going to have a clerk walk customers to their cars and help them load their groceries.  I went through the  self checkout because I only had a few items.  Immediately, I had a young man offer to help me to my car.  I politely told him it wasn't necessary as I only had two bags.

Personally, I like the idea.  I am all for adding actually adding customer service to the shopping experience, but I wonder about the practicality of it.  That will require a lot of extra labor costs. I also wonder how they will handle it during their busiest hours or during a snow scare.  It would be hard to keep up with all those customers.  I also wonder how many folks will be like my wife.  I told her about it, and she did not like the idea.  I get the feeling that she would feel uncomfortable having somebody walk out to her car with her, even if it was an employee.  
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  1. Willy thinks customer service is great - but trying to do customer service and doing it poorly can be a disaster. Hope they do it right.

    10-4 Willy

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  3. I hope so too Willy otherwise there will be carts all over the parking log.



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