BrainTrust Query: How can we improve the dreaded checkout experience?
By Dan Nelson, Sr VP / Chief Operating Officer, GMDC
Here’s something to consider… It’s very likely that the last two experiences a customer remembers after leaving a supermarket are among the least pleasant.
Ever choose a checkout line only to find you picked the slow lane? (Who hasn’t, right?)
Then, to reward your patience, you get to roll an unbalanced cart the length of a busy parking lot, exposed to the elements. (Nothing like loading groceries in the wind, rain and snow to give you that warm feeling inside about your favorite store.)
Grocers and other retailers are dedicating tremendous resources and brainpower to enhancing the overall shopping experience, but what happens at the checkout and beyond seems to be taken for granted in many operations. It just doesn’t make sense. Operators need to do some creative problem solving.
What if a supermarket replaced the standard multi-lane checkout configuration with a single “Checkout Aisle” that fed shoppers to the next available checker? Airports and banks determined years ago that a similar approach would minimize frustrations and give customers the feeling that, even if the operation was crowded, at least everyone was being attended to fairly.
Busy times can even present an opportunity to get CLOSER to customers. Maybe the store manager could direct the front of the line to the next open checkout while thanking the shopper for their business. How about a nice sample from the bakery and a small cup of hot cocoa while you wait?
And then there’s that lo—–ng walk across the parking lot. Maybe bringing the shopper’s car to the front of the store (aka Concierge Parking) would make enough difference in the experience to warrant the costs, especially if you factor in a reduction in shopping carts strewn across the lot and traffic tie ups.
Moderator’s Comment: What do you think of these suggestions for improving the checkout and get-away experience? What other ideas have you seen work?
Hollywood producers know that the final scenes of a picture can make or break the entire theatergoer’s impression, and greatly affect the movie’s “word
of mouth.” Retailers should adopt the same mindset.
These ideas may require a shift of priorities, especially labor allocations, but what would the ROI be on a differentiated approach that builds loyalty
with shoppers and changes their last memories of the store from unpleasant to very personal?