Posted on : 10-01-2011 | By : Frank Eliason | In : Business, Customer Service, Marketing, Retailing
Tags: Apple, Bottom Dollar, Customer Service
The economy has not been the greatest and it has caused us all to cut back. In some cases buying store brand or buying bulk items to save a few dollars. I have done the same, but a few things caused me to start thinking about cost verses service. There is always a balance for companies and individuals as they determine the best things for those needs.
Certain areas I have alway cut costs. One of those areas to me has always been food shopping. On the higher end, I love shopping at Wegmans for their food selection, bakery, prepared foods and my favorite is their recipes. I have always found I spend more when I go there, but overall I love the experience. To save a few dollars I do like to shop at Giant Foods in PA. I have found they typically have the lowest prices. There is a difference when I shop at each place. I do not expect wow service at Giant (although many times I feel I get it). I do expect that service at Wegmans, and virtually always receive it.
So now you know a little about my shopping habits, I have to tell you about a new supermarket that I went to this week. The supermarket is called Bottom Dollar. As you can judge from the name it is about the lowest price. I knew before going there that selection would not be huge because it is located in a much smaller building than the supermarkets in my area. The location was probably a supermarket that was closed in the early 1990′s or earlier. They advertise brand name products at the lowest possible price. I went there Friday night to pick up a few things, but when I walked in I decided to do a full amount of shopping. I grabbed my cart and entered the store. The first thing I noticed was the small produce section, which was in a refrigerated area. The produce was in boxes and all looked very fresh. There was not a huge selection, but the basics were all there. I grabbed a few things and continued my way around the store. I noticed quickly that the prices were low. They were not the lowest prices I have seen if I compared to sale prices, but much less than regular prices at other places. As an example Pepsi products were $2.88 for a 12 pack. Other places I have seen regular price $3.99 or $4.99 but sale prices as low as $2.50. Lean Cuisines were also similar price. I think they were $2.48 compared to others at $3.99 regular price with sale prices as low as $2. To give you an example of selection, they had maybe 10 different types of Lean Cuisines instead of the large quantity I find at Wegmans or Giant. They did not have a deli or bakery but they did have some of these items that were prepackaged. I was a little disappointed at the lack of deli, since I was planning on buying cheese, and I usually do not like some of the processed cheeses. The lack of bakery actually helped save me money since that to me is usually an add on purchase because ‘it looked good.’ Wegmans bakery always gets me on the add on’s.
Overall I had a full cart load of stuff. Not bad since I was only going for 3 items. I went up to the cashier and started to unload my cart. I immediately noticed the cashier had another cart at the other end of the register. I quickly noticed the cashier was taking all these little items I purchased and placing them in the other cart, just like I was at a warehouse club with very big items. Unfortunately I did not have big items. I had a whole cart load of small items. I also did not bring any of the bags we own from other supermarkets, so I was not sure how I would carry the items into my home. I quickly looked around and found a spot where they had bags for sale. I ran over, grabbed 5 and gave them to the cashier. The cashier immediately rang in the bags and placed them in the cart then proceeded to ring up all the remaining items, piling them on top of the just purchased bags. No effort was made to place any of the items in a bag. This meant at 9:00 PM on a cold night, I was out by my car trying to bag all these little items of food. This took a while and due to the cold it was not done with as much care as I would like. Overall I spent $98, which probably was a savings of $10-$12 compared to other supermarkets. This caused me to think about it and for me I decided it was not worth the saving compared to my time and the better selection. I am sure others will love it and it will be right for their needs. So I know I am willing to pay a premium of 10-15% for better service at a supermarket. Are you willing to pay a premium for service? If so, how much?
Now a funny ending to my supermarket situation. In my rush to fill the bags and load the cars, I must not have loaded the 12 packs of soda in the best way. When I got home and opened the hatch to my Prius, my 2 12-packs of soda fell out of the back of the car bursting on my driveway.
There is always a cost and value debate we always make when we purchase products. I know I prefer Apple computers compared to other brands. The reason is I have always had amazing service when I needed it, and the product I have had from Apple have lasted a long time, compared to similar machines with other operating systems. I still have a Mac that is close to 10 years old and runs as well as it did when I first bought it. During that time I have had a number on non-Apple computers that have not lasted at all. At the same time I know I pay a premium for the computer. It is probably at least 20%, but in my view and for my needs, I am willing to pay for it because I know they will last. I also know that if I do need service, the Apple store team is empowered and very willing to create a great experience. What items are you willing to pay a premium for? What items do you look to save and expect less service?