2011.40 | Impulse, Queueing, Entertainment & Apple Washing

Putting the impulse back into shopping – Loblaw in my local area experimented over the past number of months with no candy and magazine racking at the point of sale in some sites as part of a fixture refresh.  I personally liked the clean lines of the stores with this layout at Loblaw; no clutter, easy to see who is open for customers and which line is best.  It also gave a wide open feel at the front end of the store.  However, sales are more important than clean lines in most people’s books.  At my local store on Monday they re-installed racking with the magazines, gum and candy we all know so well.  Store staff indicated that magazines and candy just weren’t selling in  racks around the corner from the POS.

Single Queue – I’m seeing an increase of impulse fare in my area at other retailers, as some of them are moving towards a single queue.  Walmart escalated this queuing trend here in Canada, and others are also taking this approach.  Michael’s and the various banners of TJX including Winners, and Marshall’s (Style Sense was always this way), have moved to a single queue with a mini-maze of racks stocked with small impulse items on them to tempt you as you wait for a register to come available.    Some of the sites are also using simple queuing tools to indicate open tills to customers.  I am a fan of the approach, as the most equitable plan with flexibility for the site staff.  I no longer feel stiffed when a cashier takes a break and closes a lane when I’ve been waiting in that line.

Washroom Entertainment – In years past, visits to the washroom in restaurants was all business.  The most unusual item I ever experienced was Italian Language tapes over the sound system in the lavatories at some of my favourite Italian restaurants – entertaining and educational.  In a welcome effort to provide a unique experience to visitors, I’ve noticed more and more in the way of cute items in the washrooms of restaurants – funny posters, 2d barcode posters, TV’s over the urinals, ads on urinal pucks and increasingly digital signage.  While  in Montreal this week, I saw something that took that up a notch.  While visiting a very new and slick looking St Hubert Express, the washroom featured projected video of the top of a gravel pool of fish over the sink. While certainly not aimed at my amusement, I definitely see the benefits of this to drive the children to spend some extra time washing their hands.  It’s nice to see someone paying attention to the small details.  I do wonder about the long term viability of such a solution, but time will tell.

Washing Produce – I saw a great solution on line this week for produce.  Adhesive labels  for fruits and vegetables to provide PLU and GS1 Databar codes that turn to soap when they are wetted, so that there is no sticker waste from produce.  Instead, a useful anti-bacterial soap to ensure food safety.  Love the idea.  I expect the focus on apples is due to the fact that many other kinds of produce are often sprayed with water in the store for various reasons – dissolving the stickers in advance of purchase.

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