Positive Shopping Experiences at Super Target

This corn is so tasty…
Before I arrived at Target, I was quite anxious about shopping. I don’t mind grocery shopping but it was Noon on Saturday and I suspected it would be busy and the aisles would be congested with other shoppers that didn’t want to be there. When I first arrived, I was pleasantly surprised to find the store wasn’t too crowded as I grabbed my cart and wandered to the produce area to grab a few items. Once I was done in produce, I began to work my way to the middle of the store, and a young female employee attempted to strike up a conversation with me. She was stocking the bin with ears of corn and greeted me with a friendly voice. It appeared she was thinking out loud – she could not believe how many ears of corn they had been selling. She said the sweet corn was very sweet and tasty and corn was her favorite vegetable and at 15 cents an ear, how could anyone go wrong. She was very enthusiastic, friendly with a great attitude. How could I not stop and chat with such a positive person? She had passion in her voice and it appeared she really enjoyed her job.

Needless to say, there’s not much profit margin when you sell an ear of corn for 15 cents. Regardless, I bought five ears of corn even though corn on the cob was not on my grocery list. The corn tasted good and certainly was a good deal but that was not my takeaway from Target on Saturday. What I will remember is someone who took the time to be personable and friendly to a customer. Someone who just happened to make grocery shopping a little more palatable. Someone who went above and beyond her normal duties. What a difference that one young female employee had on me – and what a difference she’ll have on others she interacts with in the produce department.

Point you in the right direction
Over the last few weeks, the Super Target (Mundelein Crossing) had moved around some grocery merchandise, which made some shoppers confused and unable to find all of their grocery items. Today, it appears, Target’s response was to have a seasoned employee wander the aisles asking customers if she could help them locate any items. I do not know if she took the initiative to “help” customers find items or was directed by management. If she did this on her own, kudos to her and Target needs to recruit many more employees like her. If management came up with the idea, it shows a customer service perspective during the store reorganization. Regardless, it was a nice touch and I appreciated her doing it. I don’t ever remember any retail store doing this recently. It’s certainly not an expensive proposition and it creates good will among Target shoppers. Low cost but a far reaching benefit.

Would you like to sample an apple?
A few weeks ago, at the Vernon Hills Super Target, I was really tired and a little down as I wandered in the produce area. As I walked around the apples display, a produce employee said hello and asked if he could help me. I said I was looking for some apples and we began to chat about apples. Which apples are sweet, which ones are tart, which ones keep the longest, just stuff like that. After we chatted a little more, he surprised me by asking if I wanted to sample an apple (Gala), I hadn’t tried before. I was a bit embarrassed and didn’t want to bother him, but he insisted so I said yes. He returned a few minutes later with a large apple cut up in small sections and gave it to me. I began to sample the apple as we continued to talk about the difference in flavor, texture, and use. We eventually moved on to discussing organic apples and I was interested to hear his opinion. He said he liked organic apples but they can bruise very easily and offered to “customize” a bag for me. Because he was so generous with his time, I agreed and he began to find all the unbruised organic apples to complete the 3-pound bag. I was flattered he went through all that trouble and it was interesting that suddenly I felt better and more energized. This employee went out of his way to make my shopping experience more pleasant. Not sure how much of what he did for me was in his job description but he certainly provided warmth and personality to his job; his kindness and personal touch made my trip to Target that day quite memorable.

Suggestions
Numbering system when you’re waiting at the deli. Why not? Especially during busy times. If you have this system and it’s busy, you can grab your number and do a little shopping in the meantime. You will be served in the order in which you arrived. Something to consider.

Another similar idea may be to create a deli board above the deli area providing names of all deli items with a corresponding number and where all deli items could be categorized. This board could provide customers another option when ordering besides asking for the products by name. They could simply provide the number. It might help avoid confusion regarding the pronunciation/communication when ordering certain unique deli products.

Random Tidbits & Questions
They provided samples today, which add a nice touch. Especially to smaller children who may be a little hungry while grocery shopping.

If you wander around the store and take notes, some employees think you may be a mystery shopper even when you’re not.

Why not have hawkers or vendors in certain parts of the store who engage customers about products? At least 3 or 4 days of the week during busy periods? Add some vibrancy and energy to the shopping experience. Set up the booth away from the merchandise so shoppers who are not interested can just carry on with their shopping. It’s a little cost but adds some fun to such a mundane, weekly task.

Kevin Schwarm

I have over 25 years of professional experience in business, information technology (IT), and customer service. Industry experience in retail, medical insurance, higher education, non-profit, financial services, and property and casualty insurance. Customer focused professional interested in providing value (save time, money and aggravation) by evaluating and analyzing information, services and products with a unique perspective.