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Supermarket Layout ??

Posted by wantoretire_did (My Page) on
Sun, Jul 16, 06 at 12:40

Can anyone give me a reasonable explanation why supermarket chains aren't consistent with layouts from store to store? There are two of the largest northeastern chains in this city, 2 stores each (one has a third, much smaller branch as well). The large stores' layouts are completely different from their sister stores. I'm sure marketing has a lot to do with it, but I would probably buy more and be a more loyal shopper, not to mention having a lower aggravation level, if I didn't have to spend so darn much time hunting whole departments down!!

Carol


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Supermarket Layout ??

I actually work in retail and unless you do like I do, it is hard to understand why they can be so diffrent. Even though they are the same chain, smaller stores and larger stores are run VERY diffrent for obvious reasons. More customer volume, more items that need certain placement due to companies paying for that shelf space, customer demographic, the actual size of the store ALSO determines how things are laid out. I guess it can be frustrating, even to me when I grocery shop! I just remind myself that there are alot of people in this world that wish they were healthy enough to walk from one end of a store to the other looking for something, and can't. I try not to be so self-centered and selfish. I am very fortunate to be able to be frustrated in that way I guess. I think EVERYONE should have to do a little community service time and work out with the public. They are very difficult to serve. The littlest things throw them into a tizzy. Just try to remember...it's only grocery shopping. It's not the end of the world. Relax and try not to look at it as a chore and understand there are people that are making lots of $$$ to create just the right layout for the store. I figure, they know more than me about it! At least..they better!!


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As a customer, I have two complaints-some stores have overhead signs stating where things are located, why are some so inaccurate? And why don't store employees know where things are located? I have trouble with the "little" things like matches and drinking straws,to name 2 things.


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You ARE kidding about the employees knowing where everything is in a store...are'nt you? Do you know how many diffrent items are in just one aisle? I would think it would be impossible for them to know where everything is. When they are there, they are there working in thier own specific department. As far as I know, they don't allow the workers to just go wander around becoming farmiliar with every item. I'm happy if they just can get me close to the area I need to be in. I'm not that incapable that I can't find it myself. At least I would hope I'm not! As for the signs, I agree they should be accurate. Maybe it was just an over-sight. I'm sure things like that do happen from time to time. They move something and are probably just glad that that job is done and they forget the little things that go along with that. I guess the stores are not run by robots...yet. Uh-oh, we better hope that never happens or alot of people will be out of jobs. YIKES!!


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When I was working retail, I knew where everything was. You kinda get to know a place when you are in it day in and day out.

I just got to the point where I knew where everything was in my local grocery store - I don't work there, but shop there regularly. This summer, they remodelled and moved 50% of the things around.... I am lost in there now, but will eventually figure it out again! (Just in time for them to remodel again, I'm sure!).


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Wow, thats amazing. With ALL the new items from companys for every department that come in, how in the world do you possibly know, first of all, what everything is used for, and second, where it is located? I've worked in retail almost 20 years and with the rate of new products coming out to the shelves everyday, I could'nt imagine knowing where everything is or even what it is used for if it's new.


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Just last week, I was looking for pie filling. I assumed it would be with the baking supplies but there was none there. I happened to need a can of pineapple and ended up finding the pie filling there.

Another product that's always been difficult to locate is breadcrumbs.

Netshound, I'm just curious, but do you work for a supermarket?


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Actually, yes I do. Have been a manager now for about 15 out of my almost 20 years in retail. Alot more goes into it then people think. Especially today with customers demands about wanting EVERYTHING under one roof. It's crazy.


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I'm with Jannie! I won't shop at a store where the employees don't know where things are.

Just this morning I was at the grocery and couldn't find summer sausage for the garden party on Tuesday. So... I asked the high school girl working the register in front. She knew right where it was. I love that store! LOL

Yes, I do expect employees to know where things are, and I don't consider it unreasonable. No matter how many kinds of new bread crumbs (or whatever) are invented, they should all be together in the same aisle. Workers who can't find things in their own store need to go stock shelves for a couple weeks. My son worked retail one summer and that was actually a requirement.


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Netshound, Ive been a member of GW for many years and have never seen a response as patronizing as yours.

"I just remind myself that there are alot of people in this world that wish they were healthy enough to walk from one end of a store to the other looking for something, and can't. I try not to be so self-centered and selfish."

Your arrogance and lack of humility are showing. Ive lived a pretty long time, and certainly dont need a sermon from a total stranger on how fortunate I should feel, etc.

"I think EVERYONE should have to do a little community service time and work out with the public. They are very difficult to serve."

Gee, no, I didnt work in retail and havent done much community service, just worked for 35 years in law, legal aid, public defender, mental health; you know, clients who are always easy to get along with.

It may not be the end of the world, but in mine, it is a major annoyance because sometimes it is necessary to shop at one or the other of the sister stores, and with gas costing what it does, it certainly wouldnt be practical to go all the way across town to the other store. Im not talking about a new box of cereal, but entire departments (deli, dairy, bakery, etc.) in totally different parts of each store. Im happy that so much $$ is spent to create "just the right layout" but what about the customer? Believe me, Im not alone in this complaint.


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Just because you stock shelves in a grocery store does'nt mean you know where everything is. Maybe in a Mom and Pop store it should be expected since everything is on such a small scale but when your dealing with a Super-Store, thats just crazy thinking. It's very unreasonable I think. It obviuosly shows me you need to maybe do a little part-time work in a Super-Store. I've worked in my department for almost 20 years and when someone asks me for something and believe it or not, I've never heard of it, I'll ask whats it for. Then I tell them we either have it or not. Super-Stores have Sooo many items. I think if you are able to give these kids a little more info then just a name, they can at least get you to the general area, and if they can't..remember this is just a "job" for most kids. NOT a career. It's not life or death to them if you can't find your summer sausage. It's sad but true. At the store where I work at, everyone tries to find everything people are looking for. It's just unfortunate that we all just can't know where everything is all the time. I'm sure you son does'nt either. You have to cut some of these super chains a break sometimes. If customers were'nt such sticklers on wanting EVERY new item that comes out on the market, then maybe these kids would be able to learn about the placement of each and every product in the store. I honestly believe working for the public is one of the hardest and most under-paid jobs on the planet. And I also believe if your unwilling to give people a break for not being able to give you what you want, then you've never worked for the public before. You should try it.


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Supermarket Layout??

It's GROCERY SHOPPING!! I hate to tell you all but life is full of annoyances. We don't live in a Utopia. I wish it could be like that. And as for being patronizing..no. I'm just saying I think we all just need to step back and really listen to the complaining. This society complains about everything. It's just silly. Some people DO wish they had these tiny annoyances to complain about. It's GROCERY SHOPPING. Don't let it bother you so much. There's enough going on in this world today that warrant more worry than kids not knowing where something is in a store


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We have Fred Meyers and Safeway stores and the Freddy's stores have all of the clothing, sporting goods, etc. Our store employees are great. The standard line when they see you is, "Are you finding everything OK?" If they usually work in the office supplies and don't know where the ice cream toppings are, they go find the right person. They never leave you to hunt for yourself.

We have a huge tourist business in the summer, so people are always coming through who don't know the store layout. It would be unacceptable for employees not to be able to quickly help people and make them feel welcome. Stores here pay a decent wage and have good benefit packages. If you can't do the job here, someone else is ready and willing to step up to the plate.

Our stores are on really different floor plans due to remodels and the older stores putting in eat-in deli, coffee shops, movie rental, etc. I try and go to the same location to make my life easier, but that isn't always possible. I too, expect the employees to know where everything is located. Customer service is alive and well here, since they know we will head on down the road and find someone who DOES care if they don't provide what we want.

Gloria


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I also believe Customer Service is the number one thing a store needs. But some of the people here are pretty much willing to crucify a business right off if they don't get what they want. It just sounds a little sellfish to me. Almost like a spoiled child. I try to cut people a break with certain things I guess. You want to talk about HORRIBLE customer service..look no further than your local Walmart. It's common knowledge thier customer service level is not up to par. Do you also boycott that place? By the billions upon billions of dollars they make, I'm thinking not.


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Common knowledge?

Our local Wal-Marts are just fine. No attitude problems there either.


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Watch the business news...Number 1 customer complaint was service. Your in a rare area then. Be thankful.


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Sorry Netshound, but my local WalMart in Wilton, Saratoga Springs, NY, is the best when it comes to customer service, whether dry goods, food or returns and exchanges. All of their people are knowledgeable, helpful and friendly. It's the one place I can count on.


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Netshound, I feel you have been very rude to me for no reason. You obviously read wrong. The high school girl knew EXACTLY where the summer sausage was. The employees at this store (even the part-timers there for a summer job) are well trained and the service is great.

As I said before, I won't shop at a store where the employees don't know where things are. That's a fact, not a complaint.


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Well then, netshound, I guess I would not shop in your store if employees couldn't help me (and be thinking I am SELFISH!?!?).

And yes, I do not shop in Wal-Mart...
My Target's employees are very courteous to customers and very knowlegable about where everything is. They get my business.
And I prefer Lowe's to Home Depot for the same reason. Customer Service is VERY important to me!


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I think this is a regional thing. I've lived in many parts of the country except the southwest. In some places, customer service is great. Perhaps that is due to the employees actually making a living wage. In others, if you are lucky enough to even find a person to help you, they will search with you for the product because they have no idea where it is. These people barely make the federal minimum wage and don't go the extra mile. This includes supermarkets, Walmarts and supercenters such as Fred Meiers and Target, which are stores I like. But, as I stated before, the service I get depends on the region, IMHO.

I can go into most retail stores around the country and the departments are usually the same. They might be turned around (men's on the right and women's on the left).

But with supermarkets, you're never sure. One of our supermarkets here just rearranged everything. Now, I'm searching up and down the aisles when before, I could run in to pick up something and the only extra time spent was in line because they never have more than 2 cashiers on at one time. I get annoyed at waiting in line, especially when they have over 10 lanes for check out.

I was also a department retail manager and I thought I gave excellent customer service in my department. I was never expected to know about what the other departments stocked, nor were my employees. Perhaps when you run into this, it's the way the store is run.


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But with supermarkets, you're never sure. One of our supermarkets here just rearranged everything.

I usually shop in the same (smaller) store, so I notice resets quickly. In the case of this store, it kind of needed it. In the defense of stores, though, some of the decisions about where products are placed are -- well, mostly a matter of interpretation: Until stores started buying small coolers, some salad dressings were in grocery and some were in produce. Now some stores put them all together. It's logical and it makes sense if you group the dry-mix dressings and the bottled dressings together (why not the refrigerated? It's all refrigerated after you open it). But if you were a refrigerated-salad-dressing buyer, all of a sudden, it has moved, and it's annoying.

Now, I'm searching up and down the aisles when before, I could run in to pick up something and the only extra time spent was in line because they never have more than 2 cashiers on at one time. I get annoyed at waiting in line, especially when they have over 10 lanes for check out.

That's one thing I've never quite understood. I understand about staffing and I can understand having some excess capacity in case a checkout goes down. But, even while shopping on Saturday mornings before major holidays, I've never been in a store where anywhere near most of the checkouts were in service. Seems like a lot of wasted space and capital to me.


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My local grocery store is in the midst of remodelling and they've moved every blessed thing someplace else. It's gone on for weeks now, and it's completely infuriating when I just want to run in for a pie crust or a jar of salsa or something, but once things settle down I'll memorize the aisles again.

I've heard that there is a standard grocery business policy of moving all the aisles around every few years or so to force customers to walk all the aisles in hope of their buying more. Not me, I stick to my list.

In this case, we just had a swanky new grocery store open in town, so my local is really sprucing up and now even looks like its visually pleasing, brand-new, competitor.

As for employees knowing where things are, I actually worked at this grocery store when I was 16 or 17 (admittedly decades ago, lol) and the first thing we were required to do was memorize what was in each aisle -- not by brand name, certainly, but by item. The employees there can tell you where everything is located, even during this recent upheaval. Last week I asked a dairy guy where the toothpicks were, and he knew. That's good customer service and that's a big reason I still shop there.


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Netshound --

I read this thread earlier this morning and walked away, but it has been nagging at me since. And I apologize in advance if you think this is out of line, but here goes:

This is a forum where we come to address specific organizing issues, brainstorm, and hopefully "problem solve" together. We try to do this without judgment. Some of your replies ARE a bit patronizing and downright brutal.

The OP posted what mattered to her.

I seem to recall a post entitled "Never-Ending Battle", originated by you, that could easily have been interpreted as whining -- or you could easily inject your philosophy of "IT'S GROCERY SHOPPING" to IT'S JUST HOUSECLEANING, or DECLUTTERING, or BILL PAYING, etc. and be grateful each day that most of us are healthy enough to do these things. And to my recent post about Day-to-Day Receipts, you could have responded, "THEY'RE JUST RECEIPTS".

Evidentially, you have offended some members here. There are probably other forums geared toward some of the discussions/debates about the issues you mentioned -- or the "Kitchen Table" forum on Garden Web.

People stress over different things, and it's probably best not to judge what others bring to the forum. Just try to problem-solve, or perhaps, not comment at all unless it is a positive and thoughtful one. I have been a GW member for several years and the general tone, until now, has been to support one another and to cheer each other on.

But I digress. So now back to the topic at hand.......


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I am sorry for kids who work in grocery stores. I have seen customers hassel the checkout clerk over the price of food. My gosh, do I think she gets paid more when the prices go up? I certainly don't expect a 16-year-old to know where shoe polish is kept. These poor kids make minimum wage. They get shifts starting at 6 am. I know the owners don't fully train them or encourage good customer service. My first job was in 1971. I was hired as waitress. They gave me a menu, told me to take it home and memorize everything on it, and then I could start taking orders. In today's world, I don't think anyone gets much job training.


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The Publix I shop at is the store where they bring new employees to train them. It is run like a top, although there are imperfections from time to time.

Every time I have brought things to the management team's attention, it gets fixed, though. They periodically have meet the area managers day, where the mgrs of each section (deli, bakery, produce, etc) are in their section to hear what you have to say.

I remember being so frustrated to be unable to locate the little cheeze-n-cracker snack sets for school snacking. They were not in the cracker section, not in the snack section, I walked all over. Finally I learned they had decided to scatter them thru the checkout lines. So if you wanted the ones with crackers, or the ones with the little breadsticks, or the one with pretzels, whatever, you had to roam thru every checkout aisle, and excuse yourself to other people in line, in your effort (often futile) to find the one you want.

Well - when I spoke to them, they had no good explanation for doing that :-) and from then on, they were in the section where you buy all the other lunchbox snack food.

I also must say that everytime I have asked for help locating an item, I have always been thoroughly pleased to find that every employee knows where the items are.


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I wish everyone spoke English at the Walmart's in Texas. That is immensely frustrating, being surrounded by employees who cannot help the customer.


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"Can anyone give me a reasonable explanation why supermarket chains aren't consistent with layouts from store to store?"

Because they are all seeking a competitive advantage through differentiation and specialization. Even within the same chain, each store manager wants his store to be the #1 store.


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My gosh, do I think she gets paid more when the prices go up? I certainly don't expect a 16-year-old to know where shoe polish is kept. These poor kids make minimum wage. They get shifts starting at 6 am. I know the owners don't fully train them or encourage good customer service. My first job was in 1971. I was hired as waitress. They gave me a menu, told me to take it home and memorize everything on it, and then I could start taking orders. In today's world, I don't think anyone gets much job training.

I certainly agree that people who cannot influence the policy shouldn't be a lightning rod for complaining customers. But I disagree that, just because someone is making minimum wage (or, for that matter, getting up early or staying up late for work), they are excused from basic customer service.

It seems to me we have gotten away from affording basic dignity and honor to any job. Work as a cashier or janitor or hospital orderly is not dishonorable and the status of the job or the pay level is not an excuse to do it poorly. Lack of training? Lack of current information? Sure, those are issues, and, as customer service becomes more important, I am hopeful they will be addressed. In the meantime, though, I think the folks who get ahead in their careers and in their lives will be the ones who do more than the minimum. Just my $.02. I'm hoping I took what you wrote incorrectly.


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I think a person would put forth so much more effort for their employer when they are treated with respect. When they paid minimum wage ($5.15/hr) and made to feel that anyone will be happy to have it, why would that person want to work harder for their employer? It goes both ways.

OT, employers today, at least in my area, pay nothing and I mean that literally. Even if you have 20 plus years experience and were making a decent wage in another part of the country, here you are lucky to make $8.00 an hour. The excuse from the employers is that's what the going wage is. Mind you, if you want to buy a small 3 bedroom cottage, it will cost you $400,000. That's because out-of-staters are buying up the land.


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Gee Netshound, the OP asked a simple question--why aren't all the stores in a chain set up the same?--and you jumped on your soapbox about how difficult it is to serve the public and practically told the OP she was being selfish and self-centered. Serving the public is not easy, lots of jobs are not easy, and that's why they call it "work" and pay us to do it.

Mostly people here are kind, friendly, helpful when someone posts a question, and we should strive to keep it that way. Otherwise, no one will post.

I second everything Maura63 said except I'm not sure about the Kitchen Table forum.....try the Hot Topics forum.


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Grocery stores are always an interesting topic, I mean, we pretty much all have to deal with them don't we?

I think customer service, in a grocery store or restaurant or retail store or whatever, is the responsibility of the management. IOW, if the management trains the employees well, you'll get good customer service. If not, you won't. I don't think that most people intuitively know how to give good customer service in every given situation. It takes training specific to the job for anyone to know their job, and a customer service position is no different.

I worked in retail for years when I was in high school and college, and the store I worked at held periodic trainings on how to talk to the customer, how to address them, how to get help when you didn't know the answer, etc.

So usually when I get bad service, I complain to the manager, and try not to mention the person as much (unless it's clearly attitude instead of knowledge) as saying, please train your employees to give good service.

And here's my grocery store complaint:
You know those dividers that you put between orders on the checkout line? First of all, they should not be black, the same color as the conveyer belt. They should be neon green or some other color that stands out so that the cashier can clearly see them even when there are groceries piled right up to them on both sides. I always put them at a diagonal leaving plenty of space between groceries because so many times, the beginning of my groceries get caught up in the previous customer's group. Ugh.

Secondly, the cashiers should shove them all the way down to the other end of the belt, where the customer who needs it can reach it! If those two things would happen, I'd be a happier shopper.


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DH and his brother own grocery stores (6), not all are set up the same as they vary in size (70,000 sq ft to 19,000 sq ft) and product depending on store location.
But the employees are trained to know where items are and if they don't they go with you to look for it (therefore knowing next time it is asked for) or to go with you to find someone that will know where it is located. They never say "Oh it's on aisle such and such"...not allowed.
It's just basic courtesy.


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Think everyone here needs to take a deep breath and simmer down. Of course that's my personal opinion.

My supermarket complaint is the signs they do hang - usually 2 signs per isle are hung at the far end of the isle. So you are at the front of the store looking down an isle and the signs are at the far end of each isle. And the print is small - but then again that's my eyesite, but the print certainly isn't bold either.

Just an aside here - I happened to stop into a larger chain store just because I knew they had a particular item I needed. I'd stopped shopping there because the prices we're even remotely competitive. Anyway - store was fabulous. Produce the best I've ever seen or eaten, stocked shelves - and the best part the prices were LOWER than at other stores in the area. I'm certainly going back.


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"Think everyone here needs to take a deep breath and simmer down."

I think everyone HAS simmered down as this post is THREE YEARS old!


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Well don't I feel stupid. But on my behalf I didn't restart this thread and wasn't the first one to respond. How do these threads do that?


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