Test checkers' produce I.D. - The Packer

Test checkers' produce I.D.

04/07/2014 11:16:00 AM
Armand Lobato

“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.


The process

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.

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usa  |  April, 10, 2014 at 03:06 PM

Wonderful report. There are more than just produce items being misrung at stores and the indifference is palpable. All retail establishments that sell like items need to revisit there numbers and make sure they are getting paid the correct amount and ordering the right replacements.

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