A Lesson (or 2) From UX In The Real World

I was reminded today of a very, very important lesson this morning as I stopped by a local grocery store this morning to pick up a couple things for lunch. A new discount grocery store opened recently, and since I was right next store at the gym, I figured I’d take a minute to go check it out & grab some groceries. Now, I completely understand that with going to a discount grocery store prices comes the usual less-than-spectacular display, convenience, organization, and variety. I understand that – I was just there to grab a couple cheap things & go. So, I went about my business, and to be completely honest, for a discount grocery store, I was fairly impressed – it was clean, things were actually in order, and the staff were nice. I was having a generally good experience…until I got to the register. The employee asked me “would you like to purchase some bags for your items?”.

This threw me for a loop.

It’s one thing if you properly communicate as you enter the store that “hey, to keep prices low, one of our things is that we don’t offer free bags”, but to miss that and only find out at the cashier that this is how they roll – is something completely different.

So, lesson #1: Proper communication with the buyer. If you’re going to do things different than the usual accepted way, make sure they know it and are prepared before they either a.) enter the store and/or b.) enter the purchasing area (whether it be a checkout online or in a brick ‘n mortar store)
And lesson #2: Even if you’re known for being a discount company, don’t skimp on simple little cheap user experience things like a plastic bag. I know you want to pinch as many pennies as possible so you can “save the buyer more”, but skimping in areas like these negatively affects your reputation – they basically say to some degree “we care more about saving pennies than we do about you having to struggle to carry your items out”.

In the end, even if you’re known as a discount company and people aren’t coming to you necessarily for the best experience ever, at least have the courtesy to give them a $.03 bag or make sure it’s communicated well that you do things a little different.