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Are you rewarding the right behaviors?

CIMG0472Why are there express lanes for people who buy a small amount of stuff?

We should have express lanes for people who buy a ton of stuff. 

How about this:  If you fill your cart over to the top, you get to use the SuperLane!  The SuperLane will give you 2 cashiers, 2 baggers, and a fresh cup of coffee waiting to get you on your way.

The lesson:  Find ways to reward the folks spending $200 instead of $20.

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  1. Kim Haynes March 24, 2008 at 9:07 am #

    Fabulous thought! And so true. It would be fabulous to have better service when I’m purchasing a ton of stuff and simply speedier service when I’m picking up only a few items.

  2. Dave Huston March 24, 2008 at 10:14 am #

    On the other hand, if someone’s got 10 items or less, they probably just came in for those specific items. Those with a cart full are true shoppers, constantly looking around for more things to buy. Having them spend more time in line gives the opportunity for them to see or think of something else they want.

  3. Frank Roche March 24, 2008 at 11:22 am #

    Andy, that is freakin’ brilliant. Wow. Have you consulted with grocery chains on that one? It’s stunning.

  4. Stoney deGeyter March 24, 2008 at 12:04 pm #

    The problem is I’m sure grocery stores make a ton of money off the small sales. If these people have to wait in long lines for a few items then they’ll shop elsewhere. But the idea of rewarding big spenders is fantastic.

  5. Ed Kohler March 24, 2008 at 3:00 pm #

    Great idea. How about bringing a 2nd cart to people with overflowing carts and checking out their first load for them while they continue to shop?

  6. Peter Cramb March 24, 2008 at 3:04 pm #

    Andy, I think you’re idea has some merit but your comparison is based on one-off transactions. But remember one of the shop’s aims is that the person with 5 items today will be the person with 50 items tomorrow. When you only have a couple of items, having to wait at the checkout it a real pain but when you’ve got a large trolley full it doesn’t matter quite as much. Seth made a good point recently about which customers should be given the best treatment (i.e. all of the them) and I think it applies here too. I think the key is to find rewards for all customers and for those with only a few items then time is often of the essence and express lanes are good. Maybe for the $200 customers there are better rewards than just quick checkouts??

  7. Timothy McDoniel March 24, 2008 at 11:18 pm #

    That’s why I bring my Smartphone, so I can ‘twitter’ and surf the web while waiting in line. :-) Usually the express lanes have more people in line and slower cashiers anyways. Seems to even out either way.
    – Tim

  8. Daniel March 25, 2008 at 5:35 pm #

    Peter – Great point!

  9. Joe Provenzano March 30, 2008 at 3:13 pm #

    Your post does a great job of refocusing a business on it’s customer with their varied needs and away from a one size fits all model.

  10. linkerjpatrick March 31, 2008 at 7:22 am #

    I see your point. The definitely need a lane or two for the power shoppers.
    They also need to have a vice lane for Beer,Wine, Liquor and cigarettes. It’s can be annoying to have to wait behind someone loading up on for the “big party”, you know the guy with the case of beer, etc. When you need to buy the “bread and milk”. The vice lane could have someone who was an expert in checking I.D’s etc.
    I do think the express lanes have a purpose however.
    One thing I wish grocery stores would do is to either have someone at every lane or remove all the lanes that never get used. I contantly see stores that have about 10 lanes but only 2-3 are every in use. Why have the lanes if you’re not going to hire anyone to work them? Maybe they are their for seasonal spurts but it gives the impression the store is always about to go out of business and I hate to wait in long line when they could have more lanes in use.

  11. MitchellT March 31, 2008 at 11:08 am #

    I agree that some retailers should try this concept – the people in a hurry with only 1-15 items can use the self checkout graciously provided by many of these same retailers (such as grocers).

  12. Naren Katakam April 1, 2008 at 5:39 am #

    Great Idea! However, the quick shoppers or people who buy less items are bound to come back to the store quicker than the ones who buy their monthly groceries at one go. Its good to reward people who spend $200 or more but it not fair to keep make people who spend $20 or less waiting in the line for a long time. If you keep them waiting they’ll find another store where they can check out faster. Its more about people’s habit of shopping and comfort zone than anything else. I like the idea of a cuppa coffee for a heavy shopper though!

  13. Frank Martin April 2, 2008 at 8:29 am #

    I think grocery stores are rewarding the customers who complain about having to wait so long when they are buying only a few items; the “express” lines are an attempt to bring in (or not lose) people who may go to a convenience store if they have to wait too long to be checked out. The decision was made from the reference point of *fear* rather than *reward*.
    That said, I think your idea is an excellent one – reward the big spenders in your store and make them feel special. Why don’t we do that? Why do we jump through hoops to keep people from being pissed off, rather than try to think of ways to make them feel good? As marketing consultants, we need to think about this more often. Thanks for the prod.

  14. Nan April 7, 2008 at 12:07 pm #

    While I like the idea of rewarding a big shopper and making their life easier, they may actually have less impact on the bottom line than we think. In a conversation with the WalMart CTO last November, she told me their average basket size across the US was under 20$! When you think of the people with piled up baskets you may have seen in a walmart, that means that there are a LOT more people buying only one or two items, but contributing to the bottom line.
    Conversely, I have often spent more in an express lane than I have with a basket full of groceries. Having a few things does not mean that I am spending a low dollar amount.
    If I were a grocery store owner, I would want to see the real dollar distribution of where money was being spent and at what rate, before I decided which lines to pamper.

  15. Kelvin18 October 23, 2009 at 8:05 am #

    But one thing is clear, the discussion of such a possibility happening is not the same as condoning or approving of such a thing. ,

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