Monday, August 15, 2005

British Supermarkets vs Malaysian Supermarkets

I was grocery shopping with my mum at Giant today. As usual, we bought some vegetables and fruits. And being loose items, we needed to have them weighed at the weighing station before proceeding to the check out counter where the items will be scanned. There were 4 electronic weighing scales at the station and 4 staff on duty. 3 machines were switched on and one machine was off (presumably down). However, only one counter was open for a long queue of frustrated and angry housewives carrying and cooing their crying babies and children.

As I was lining up right at the end of the dragon's tail, my mind started to wonder how much money Giant can save if they make the weighing station staff redundant. I use the word redundant because under Employment Law, if they are dismissed, the company has to pay an even bigger compensation to them. Their job can be done by the cashier at the check out counter. In the UK, all supermarkets operate this way. You bring your loose items to the check out and the cashier identifies the product's keycode by looking at the sticker on it, she will weigh it and a price comes out. Easy pizzy, jumping easy...

Even if the local supermarkets do not want to make their weighing station staff redundant, they can employ them as cashiers. What is the point of having 20 cash registers when only less than 10 are open during peak hours. This makes the whole supermarket congested with people and their shopping trollies. The whole shopping experience is diminshed greatly like this. Better still, local supermarkets should have self-checkout counters for customers with less than 10 items in their basket. This saves cost for the company and saves time for the customer. Afterall, it is just scanning the product into the machine, putting in your cash or swipping your card and off you go. If you can pay for the carpark fee yourself via the automated machine, why can't you pay for a tube of sweets, a pack of chocolates, a carton of milk or a few bags of vegetables by yourself?

I know I've been comparing too much between the UK and Malaysia. But the reason why I'm comparing and complaining at the same time is because I am very confident that Malaysia has a lot more to offer than what we have now. Malaysia has the potential to expand the quality of their service industry and make the consumers more satisfied than they are presently. Malaysia can do it but Malaysia is reluctant to for a reason that I cannot comprehend.

Is it so difficult for the cashier to smile and say hello? Is it so difficult for customers to bag their own groceries? Is it so difficult to handle the trollies with care?