Friday, 16 January 2015

Please, Mr Sainsbury's...A word.

There's actually something wrong with this picture.
Any ideas?
Well, it's simple really - the post scanning area (where your shopping ends up after the till-meister has whipped it across the barcode scanner) is unnaturally free of items...which is nothing like reality.
In my local Sainsbury's supermarket, things are very, very different. In my reality, you haven't even acknowledged the operative's breezy 'Good Morning' and got the first of your 'bags for life' unfolded than the scene before you is suddenly one of total grocery carnage.
That idea you had about keeping all the chilled and frozen stuff together? Forget it - your Muller yoghurts are now lost somewhere underneath those new bags for life hanging at the end of the checkout.
Your bulb of garlic? You'll never see that again!
And shit...your jam-filled doughnuts are being mercilessly crushed beneath a roaring, rolling tide of Plum Tomatoes and Heinz Tomato Soup (with a hint of basil).

But why is it like this?
Surely the Mad Scanner sat on the other side of the till can see that your grapes are being squeezed juiceless between your Innocent Orange and that 2.5 kg bag of King Edwards Potatoes!
Surely the sensible thing would be to slow down, to put items through at a reasonable pace...
Ahh yes, it would, wouldn't it. Only, that doesn't appear to be the Sainsbury's way. You see, it seems that all of Sainsbury's check-outs are monitored for throughput - operatives have to scan a certain number of items per minute - this is what the operative's performance is measured on.
On the face of it, there is some semblance of logic in it - after all, the faster you can get items through the checkout, the more people you can serve, the shorter the queues (or the fewer checkout staff you need, whatever your economic, cost-saving preference may be).
But that's just on the face of it.
The truth is that the defining element of how quickly an individual gets through the checkout is not the till-meister. It's the shopper. How quickly the shopper moves on depends on how quickly they can pack their bags and, whether Sainsbury's like it or not, no matter how quickly my groceries are thrown at me or pressed into a churning mass of tins, cartons, vegetables and toiletries by the whirring conveyor, it's going to take me the same amount of time to pack my fact, truth be know, if I'm feeling a little annoyed by the fact that my Warburton's Toastie loaf has been crushed into the shape of a French baguette by a checkout operative worried about their 'item throughput speed', I'm actually going to take a little longer to pack those bags. The word you're looking at here is belligerence.
Oh, and there's another word that Sainsbury's would do well to look up in a dictionary - that's the word 'alternative' - I choose to shop at Sainsbury's. I can choose to shop elsewhere

So a word of advice to Mike Coupe (he's the CEO, don't you know) - if you want to keep on pissing off loyal customers, then by all means continue telling your till-staff that the most important thing is to get every item scanned just as quickly as is humanly possible, and sod the fact that half of the customer's fruit has just been turned to shit. However, if you want to avoid having shorter queues at the checkouts because no bugger is shopping at Sainsbury's anymore, then can I suggest that you instruct your till-meisters to take a moment to watch how quickly people are able to pack their bags and to then alter their speed accordingly.
That way you'll end up with fewer misshapen loaves and fewer disgruntled shoppers who suddenly find themselves wondering whether they should follow your company's advice and 'Try Something New Today' Asda.