“Oh my! Is this bok choy?” the cashier asked, examining the vegetable closely.
“I believe it is baby bok choy,” I answered.
She spun the little price look-up wheel on the checkstand. “Well, all I’ve got here is bok choy. That’s okay, isn’t it?” She rang it up without waiting a reply. She moved quickly through my handbasket of mixed produce. Because almost everything had a PLU tag, almost everything got rung up correctly. Then (also without asking), she rang up the anise as leeks.
Because these two items were under-charged, it was good for the customer — but bad for the produce department.
A case of mistaken identity
Many produce items look alike. Or a cashier may not know what something is and will often guess its identity – incorrectly.
No big deal? Even though some may think it doesn’t make that much difference, incorrect pricing adds up and systematically eats away at sales and profits — and creates shrink. During my shopping experience (in which I was only trying to buy items for photos and wasn’t trying to fool anyone) it turned out worse for the store. I purchased $23.87 of produce. The difference in the mistakes came to $6.50 in lost sales, or 27% of the order. It’s safe to say the store lost money on the transaction.
Mistakes add up quickly
A young cashier may not know the difference between anise and celery, especially if a colored or multi-layer plastic bag conceals the contents. Even an experienced cashier may not know the difference between pricey radicchio and far-less-expensive red cabbage. How about the difference between regular and English cucumbers? Plums and passion fruit? The list goes on.
Let’s put more — this time hypothetical — numbers to a for-instance. Suppose a customer selects five pounds of organic gala apples. The retail is $4.49 per pound and should ring up at $22.45. The cashier, used to ringing up conventional galas, doesn’t examine the PLU carefully and rings up the fruit at $1.29 per pound for a total of $6.45. Result? The produce department loses a hefty $16 on just this sales ring alone.
What’s the solution? Consider challenging cashiers to a produce I.D. test on a weekly basis.
A produce manager should apply some critical thinking to anything that might come across as confusing to the cashiers. However, expanding that train of thought can also bring big benefits.