Implement Reusable Containers at Costco?

I am a Costco member who’s interested in streamlining/improving the shopping experience. Because I’m about 13 miles or 30 minutes away from the nearest Costco in Lake Zurich, I frequent the store every 4 to 6 weeks. While I load my cart after purchase, I usually stack the items directly into a box (provided by Costco) or directly in the cart. If I reuse a box from Costco, I handle most items a number of times. In fact, sometimes they are out of boxes which means I may touch a particular item up to 4 times before placed in the freezer.

To improve the efficiency of this process, I’m suggesting Costco design a grocery container to help with transporting grocery items from the store into your home. Something light with handles in multiple places to minimize the amount of times you touch each of the items. When I say “into your home”, that might mean to the basement freezer, garage refrigerator, kitchen refrigerator, kitchen pantry or cosmetic closet. By having a container which is packed correctly at the store, you could directly bring this container to the designated area.
Designing a cart which is insulated would help keep groceries in the car for a few hours during the summer or winter without adverse effects.

DESIGN IDEAS
 Reusable containers for Costco, a branding opportunity. 
 Insulated for use in summer or winter.
 Durable and light to be used for transporting groceries and items from the store to your vehicle and then into your garage, home or basement.

 Bright, maybe use 1 or 2 colors for all containers.

 Maybe provide a unique name for this container to help with branding. 
 Strong handles that are easy and versatile to use from different angles or directions.
 Containers that are stackable too that could fit into a shopping cart.
 Include the option to include 3 or so separate compartments for each container. Separate the cosmetic items from the groceries or groceries from the frozen and/or refrigerator items.
 Buy for a nominal fee – maybe $10 each. Costco makes a little profit on each.
 An option on the container to include your name?
 Even if the container used for other purposes, there’s still branding going on. Win-Win even if not all purchased containers used for grocery transportation.
 Good for the environment – more eco-friendly and more convenient.
 If you shop at Costco once every 6 weeks or so, you may need to have 2 or 3 containers to keep all your items correctly separated. You may or may not need the dividers. If you’re a frequent shopper, 1 container may suffice and most likely, you’ll need the divider to separate the grocery items from the frozen or refrigerator items.

OTHER ISSUES OR QUESTIONS…
 How would you keep them clean?
 Would someone have the option to keep their containers as you walk into the store?
 Would you have one size fits all or have variable sizes? I’m thinking if you design the containers in such a way to have separate compartments, having one size might be doable.
 How much would this container cost Costco to manufacture?
 Would Costco run a pilot program at a few selected warehouses to see how it goes?
 Could it be viable? A Win-Win for Costco and their members?
 Would it be easier for Costco workers to work with? Easier to fill than different sized boxes?
 How to implement such a return program? How do you check-in the containers? Do you do this when you first walk into the store? Maybe scan your card so you receive a valued amount on the card, which you use to check-out other containers?

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.