Sometimes I wonder whether shopper marketers in the US actually want to move forward.
Today, I spotted a RetailWire article that really captured my attention: about a Finnish retailer and university, partnering together to test the idea of a ‘slow lane’ at the checkout. For me this was a “hallelujah!” moment – as you read the article, the team has identified that older customers and customers with disabilities often find the check-out to be a high-pressure, stressful end to what is otherwise a great experience in the store. So they flipped conventional thinking and saw an opportunity. Bravo!
But my bleat today is not to simply re-hash the RW article: rather to express disappointment on the comments that you will find below the article. A majority of RW commenters have quickly dismissed that this idea could work in the USA. Just like that- poof! – new thinking strangled by dead thinking!
Comments like “I could be wrong but the whole purpose of the checkout is to be the high pressure, high impulse area of the store. Yes, it’s a hurried experience because the customer wants to get out of there as soon as possible” just highlight the myopia that too many shopper marketers suffer, and the lack of insight into the varying needs of different shoppers, and different shopping missions.
The fact is that some (sure, many!) shoppers, on certain missions, want speed – but others want a more pleasurable experience, and still others just plain NEED more time. This reality is hit home by one commenter (writing as a shopper & arthritis sufferer, not a shopper marketer!) who reinforces that a slow lane, which allows her to check-out at her pace, would be an idea she would not only reward with trips, but also would trumpet loudly in the social media.
Plus it is not just the elderly or disabled that I can imagine taking advantage – I would use the lane when I have my little lamb in the stroller. And how about the person with a bunch of coupons to use – or a question for the clerk – but is nervous of slowing down the next person and earning their wrath?
Imagine instead, couldn’t a slow lane actually help ‘speed up’ the ‘fast lane’ for the rush-rush-rush Americans described by so many commenters? Wouldn’t it be beneficial to the ‘speed shoppers’ to have the ‘slow shoppers’ over in the metaphoric ‘right-hand lane’… out of their way? (Kudos to Bernice from RW for also pointing this out!)
So perhaps before we shoot down a new idea, we need to put aside our old assumptions, and re-imagine our view of the perfect shopping experience: we just might find a ‘crazy idea’ addresses a bunch of problems that our rational planning has never been able to solve.
the orange sheep