There are some inefficiencies with the process of obtaining items from the deli department of the grocery store. I highlighted one of them in a previous post, and I’m sure many of you could provide other examples.
But today, we are going to solve many of them. With an improvement to the ubiquitous Take-A-Number system.
Today, I propose to you the deli Take-An-Order system.
It’s actually my wife’s idea, which is odd because she’s the one who doesn’t mind talking to people and she doesn’t avoid confrontation, both opposite of me. But I wholeheartedly endorse her idea here.
The Take-An-Order system is a combination of take-a-number and self-check-out. Except that instead of checking out your order, you are putting it in. The deli would have a kiosk or two with a touchscreen, very familiar to most deli customers these days. Enter your order and the system would give you a number, like some fast-food restaurants do. Plus they could give you an estimated time of fulfillment. Or, even better, you could enter your cell phone # and the system could text you when your order is ready, leaving you free to do the rest of your shopping in the meantime.
What about hooligans who would try to mess things up by entering a bunch of bogus orders, causing confusion and unnecessary work? Simple, require a swipe of a loyalty card or credit card before letting the user input the order.
What about people who pay cash and don’t have a loyalty card? Simple, there will still be deli workers behind the counters, so they could take in-person orders too. That will help those people who want personal interaction from their deli.
Other benefits of this system include increased efficiency of the workers. Think about how many times they go back and forth from the customer to the food supply to the slicing machines back to the customer. And that customer has 3 or 4 items he wants, so the deli worker has to make those rounds multiple times per customer. How much quicker would things get done if the worker had the whole order at once, could line up all the items, and make one trip to the slicing machine?
Even further, how many times does the worker get a style of meat, cut off some slices, and put it back – only to have another customer order the same thing and have to get it back out again? The Take-An-Order system could aggregate the orders, so all the honey ham orders from all customers within a 15-minute window could be cut at the same time, then all the roast beefs, etc.
For customer satisfaction, the thickness of the cut would be consistent. The order interface would have objective thickness options, such as 1/8″, instead of vague “thin” or “medium”.
And for our family, I know we get approximately the same items every week or so. How much more convenient would it be if I swiped my loyalty card and my most recent orders were displayed and I could just tap on them to order them again?
Imagine that scenario: I walk up to a deli kiosk with no wait. I swipe my card, tap a couple of things, and go on my way. I walk around the store, usefully shopping while my order is filled, and receive a text that my order is complete and I can pick it up at my convenience. Deli utopia, I say!
Overachieving grocery stores could have the completed deli orders routed to the check-out aisles, so customers don’t even have to go back to the deli. As they swipe their loyalty cards during checkout, their deli items are rung up and placed in their bags.
The current system, in the words of Sir Topham Hatt, causes confusion and delay. It could be so much better.
From there he spies out food; His eyes see it from afar.