Tuesday, February 22, 2011

You mop up wine - Fresco rakes in profits

  Fruit professionally stacked. How do you like those apples?
Petersfield supermarket Fresco's is to introduce a new interactive shopping experience where customers will be able to stack the shelves themselves.

Store manager Hugh Canduit explained: “Some time ago we introduced a bank of self-service tills and these have proved to be a huge hit with customers.

“Using a self-service till couldn’t be simpler. You scan your own goods using the bar-codes; it only takes customers eight times longer than an experienced member of staff to do this.

“There will inevitably be one or two items that won’t scan, so you need to factor in two or three additional minutes to attract a member of staff for assistance.

“If there is a problem with the bar code, the member of staff can normally rectify the situation easily by tapping in a 246-digit number which negates the need to scan the item.

“You can also redeem vouchers at the self-service till; although this is complicated and does hold up the queue. It’s probably best to use these another day.

“If you have purchased an item which has a security tag that needs to be removed such as a pack of razor blades, you will also need to attract the attention of a member of staff. Don’t be put off by the withering look you may get.

“Weighing fruit and vegetables can also really slow up the process, so we always suggest that our customers buy packaged items where possible; it’s much quicker that way, and the manufacturers can only add so much sugar and salt after all.

“Of course you will need to pack your own bags; this will take a little longer, mainly because you need to factor in a minute or two to prise the wafer thin plastic buggers apart and then open.

“Then you need to process your parking ticket and your loyalty card which normally adds a few minutes to the process for the uninitiated. If at this point you realise you wanted cashback, you simply finish your transaction and head outside to join another queue at the 'hole-in-the-wall'. It couldn't be simpler.”

It is no wonder that the self-service tills have been such a hit with anyone who has half-an-hour to spare and Canduit believes the shelf-stacking scheme will be equally as popular.

“We have no doubt the shelf-stacking scheme will be equally as popular”, he added, making the previous paragraph superfluous.

“At one time we had to provide a customer service, now the customers are happy to chip in and do the work themselves as is clearly evident at the self-service tills. Customers will be able to stack shelves from March and this is really only the beginning.

“Later in the year customers will be able to mop the aisles when there has been a spillage and collect trolleys from the bays around the car park and bring them to the entrance.

“This will mean cleaner aisles and improve the likelihood that there will be a trolley available for customers as they arrive."

Canduit was asked whether this wasn’t really about reducing staff overheads and maximising profits, but he was made redundant before he had a chance to answer.

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