Grocery shopping. A necessary evil. One of my least favorite tasks is grocery shopping. Oddly, it’s not the actual shopping I dread. It’s spending time putting groceries away that annoys me most. Whether I’ve skipped in-store shopping and ordered groceries online for pick up or delivery, I dread what I’ll find when I look inside the bags. Overfilled bags, flat bread, broken eggs, cleaners mixed in with meats or produce, or frozen items melting with pantry items. You might say – why don’t you just bag your own groceries, picky lady?
I often do when I shop in person. With many stores shifting staff models away from designated grocery baggers for each cashier, I’ll offer to help the person checking out my order. I’m not scared. I was trained to bag groceries as a high school student, back when that was a thing. I learned to be thoughtful about what went into each bag. Cleaning supplies should be bagged separately. Don’t put eggs under anything but chips or bread. Load balancing bags is another consideration. We’ve all experienced the torn bag, contents strewn hither and yon. People responsible for bagging groceries aren’t always trained to bag thoughtfully. Grocery bagging is an undervalued customer touchpoint. We all experience this touchpoint in our homes, out of sight of grocery store decision makers and employees. It is the final touchpoint in the customer experience journey related to grocery shopping. It’s the last chance to make an impression, good or bad.
As a researcher and experience journey mapper, I often look at my activities as a series of touchpoints, starting when I leave my home until all the groceries are put away. Then the task is complete. Retailers and grocery stores end their journey when you leave the store, your order is picked up, or your items are delivered. They are missing touchpoints which take place after the customer leaves the stores. All those touchpoints matter!
Journey mapping is an informative activity for all businesses, whether customer-facing or B2B focused. Understanding the touchpoints of customer interactions and what customers do, think, and feel during each one allows for strategic change and differentiation.
When I begin a research study and journey mapping project, I request a cross-functional team to participate in a series of two to three workshops. I start the workshop sessions using a whiteboard to map out touchpoints. Walking along the journey with the customer helps! I start by asking a few questions:
· What is the first action a customer takes (whether another business or a consumer) to initiate interaction with you?
· Where does it take place?
· What is the last interaction a customer takes when conducting business with you?
· Where does it take place?
· What other possible touchpoints happen before or after the first and last as listed here. (This is a great brainstorming question to help the group imagine the potential for alternate beginnings and endings.)
I prefer to anchor the start and end of the journey before mapping the touchpoints in the middle. If you define the entry and exit points to start the discussion, the remaining points will come easily into alignment. After those have been established, I circle back to the beginning and ask, ‘What happens next?’ until the group agrees all touchpoints are represented.
We take a trip through the journey touchpoints at the end, asking the team to walk in the customers’ shoes. They must imagine themselves at each touchpoint and note anything that may be missing. This helps to ensure we haven’t missed any relevant data and have mapped the complete experience.
Grocery stores and other retailers benefit greatly from documenting their customers’ journeys and reimagining them for the future. Redefining beginnings and endings leads to new opportunities to differentiate in a tight, competitive market space. Grocery stores that include unpacking groceries in their touchpoints could differentiate from competitors simply by ensuring employees are trained to pack carefully and strategically. Bringing the shopping experience all the sway into the home could become a bright spot rather than a pain point.
And no broken bags or flattened bread to stress about later.