Sledgehammer to crack a nut?


“Co-op looks to trolley mounted tablets to boost customer experience”

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m all for using technology to improve customer experience or even anything else in life come to that, but to me this seems like using a sledge hammer to crack a nut!

co op food

Despite this seeming to be an overly elaborate and unnecessary use of technology there are some obvious drawbacks to this plan in my view.

By their own description, the Co-operative is, amongst many other things about ‘local convenience’. Convenience which is about top up shopping rather than a weekly big shop which research has actually demonstrated. Top up shopping means baskets rather trolleys. Average spend per customer is probably less than £30, all of which can fit in a basket.

From personal experience, I’ve never used a trolley in a Co-op. Ever. Predominantly because they’re at least 10-20% more expensive that other food stores and so the thought of buying enough shopping to necessitate using a trolley just never happens.

So I would suggest that the people that do use a trolley in the larger stores, most of which are probably in more affluent areas as far as I’ve seen, are more affluent and so will provide only one perspective on customer experience.

Also, some of the smaller stores (which make up the majority of the Co-op’s estate) aren’t even big enough to accommodate trolleys so does that mean the experience of customers that shop there doesn’t count?

More to the point I would suggest that anyone who’s been in a Co-op can tell the business what they need to do to improve without the aid of a tablet.

  • Eliminate the queues. Convenience needs to be easy otherwise it’s not convenient.
  • Supermarket QueueFresh produce needs to be fresh
  • Popular product ranges need to be stocked where physical store space permits
  • Provide better value for money. I’m happy to pay a small premium for convenience if a) it’s actually convenient b) the premium is small. 20% isn’t small in my view.

So there you have it. No tablets required either to rent or buy. No lengthy data collection trial in store with customers. No resource required to process the data. No glorified report with graphs, charts, customer segmentation profiles and customer comments to tell those in charge how to improve customer experience.

Call me a cynic but sometimes, improving customer experience is just about delivering on the basics consistently. Nothing more, nothing less. Or as Stanford University Professors Sutton and Rao claim in their book ‘Scaling up excellence’ it’s about ‘fixing the plumbing first’.

Here is the link to the original article published in Business reporter.


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