Until recently, along the front of my local No Frills store, there were bins full of empty boxes, the idea being that customers were welcome to take a box or two if they needed them, and I suppose since the store had to dispose of the cardboard in any case it was a win-win kind of situation, even if bins full of boxes was less than attractive. One day, everything at the front of the store disappeared.
Today I popped over to the Frills today to the get some dog biscuits and a little something for dinner, and I could not help but notice the front of the store is now filled with what appear to be large stainless steel lockers. I asked the cashier about it. “It’s for Click & Collect”, she told me. “The idea is you can order your groceries from home and we shop for you and all you have to do is come pick them up.” I imagine there are some people who are physically unable to shop for whom this is a good thing, although it’s hard for me to imagine this being a successful business model. As well, they’ve spent some serious coin on these lockers, so they must be committed to the idea.
Sometimes I think there must be a bunch of people at the HO of grocery store chains, meeting after a
two three martini lunch to sit in a board room and come up with this stuff. It occurred to me the same people work on pricing. The other day I bought a jumbo tub of a brand-name ground coffee for $6.97. Today, the half size containers are $5.97, the same ones that were $2.00 last week. It’s as if somebody throws darts to determine coffee prices from one day to the next. And don’t get me started on blueberry prices. I’m convinced when they hiked them up to $3.97 for a half pint, most of their stock rotted. I tried to be helpful though. I suggested to the cashier that next they should individually wrap blueberries and sell them on a per berry basis.
Meanwhile, they made other changes in the store. For instance, they moved the lunch meat to where the cheese was and the cheese to where the lunch meat was. This likely took a couple people a few hours to accomplish. Somebody must think by doing this, they can sell more of something more profitable, right?
As much as I sometimes think these kinds of decisions are made by half-soused corporate executives, I know better. They study this stuff. After all, they collect enough data from points cards to sink a ship. They have invested in the “Click & Collect” business because data has strongly indicated it will work. Still I think they’re wrong and it will be a monumental fail. Time will tell, I suppose.
The cashier also told me they are installing self-checkout at the No-Frills. Oh boy. For my convenience, no doubt. I don’t much like self-checkout. First of all, I don’t work for Loblaws. Second, I like having a real human I can interact with. And thirdly, I’d like my cashier to have a job next year. My cashier surprisingly disagreed. “I used to think that way too,” she told me, “but it’s not so.” “Sure it is, ” I replied. “Why else would they do it? Why would any company reduce service if they didn’t think there was greater profit in doing it? “Nope,” said the cashier. “We won’t lose our jobs. We’ll just be doing different work, that’s all.” I suspect the Kool-aid she’s been drinking came from the grey-market dispensary down the street.
That’s my shopping rant for today. Don’t get me started on the diagonal aisle-ways at the liquor store. That must drive the employees batty.