Friday, December 24, 2010

Suggestions for creating a better shopping experience

By Laura Price, Family Investment Center

I love grocery shopping. Seriously, I do. And in my opinion, of all grocery stores, Hy-Vee is crème de la crème. But due to, I admit, my own ill planning and procrastination, I found myself picking up last-minute holiday groceries just two days before Christmas. Needless to say, my poor timing sucked the thrill out of the normally-pleasurable experience.

After barely finding a parking spot at my beloved Hy-Vee, I was thrilled to see every checkout open and many employees roaming the aisles offering assistance (kudos!). Still, the crowds nearly drove me to insanity. From this experience, with the help of some friends, I developed a list of suggestions for grocery store management to consider. Stores could make extra annual revenue by imposing the following sensible fees:

1) Leaving your cart unattended in the middle of the aisle: $3.50 plus $1.50 cart removal fee (hey, you leave it, you lose it)

2) Letting your child drive the cart: $4.00

3) Cart heel bumps: $5.95 first offense, then $12.95 every bump after

4) Ringing up an overflowing cart in multiple orders: $7.00 convenience charge per order, rung up at a specially-designated register (check-writers can use only this register as well)

5) Express lanes accommodating those with only eight (8) items or less, $10.00 for every item exceeding the limit of 8.

6) Senior citizens get a 10% discount for shopping Monday through Friday between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.

*Note: all fees are subject to doubling in the months of November and December.

I might also note that though #6 doesn’t seem like a profit-booster, there’s no doubt there are indirect financial benefits. Happier customers, young and old, yield higher sales. It just makes sense.

One of the best ideas provided was to use the above fee schedule as a fundraising mechanism. High school students police the stores, then the revenue is split between the students and the store. It’s a total win-win.

Have I missed any? Comments/suggestions? Fees too high? Too low? Know any grocers?

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