Here’s a random thought that occurred to me the other day.  I promise I’m going somewhere with it, though:

The deli should be at the front of a grocery store.  Now, I’m in way over my head here, because I’m sure that there’s a lot that goes into the planning of the layout of such places and I’m no expert—an expert may tell me why I’m totally wrong from some sort of architectural perspective or feng shui reasoning.  But I’m going to stick with this proposition, at least from a Customer’s perspective:  Folks who are just running in to pick something up are often looking for something quick to eat, or perhaps are in a panic that they’ve got sudden guests.  Come to think of it, for that matter, the bakery should be out there too.  And you know what else?  (I’m getting greedy now, I know, I know.)  Put it on the side of the store where you also have the self-checkout lanes (if you only have them on one side).

I’ve mentioned before that we live in a neighborhood that has several different national grocery chains; we’ve even got a couple of the same chain within a few miles of each other.  Yes, first world situation here in Denver.  Just off the top of my head, of the five or six I can think of in the vicinity, I’d say about half of them actually have their delis and/or bakeries set up this way.  Good on them.

But of the three or four who don’t, what’s interesting is that only one that I can think of even bothers to put a display case near the front of the store with things like sandwiches, various side salads, and other grab-and-go pre-made fare.  In that one store, a poor deli counter worker, or baker, or perhaps someone whose job is to stock shelves, has to constantly be on the ball refilling the display case with treats and meals for Customers.  And they do.  I’ve noticed how busy that display case gets (I’ve patronized it quite a few times myself…the sandwiches are delicious), but I’ve never seen it considerably depleted.  Whomever they’ve assigned to keep it stocked does a stellar job.  And what a pain in the neck it must be:  Constantly taking time away from making sandwiches and seemingly unnecessarily (because they also display a variety back where the deli is located toward the rear of the store) carting a bunch up to the front for this display.  I’ve seen a kid do it once in a while, and to his credit, he carries himself positively, but surely, he must see it as a waste of his efforts.

But here’s the thing:  Bluntly, nobody cares that he’s put out to do so.  In a broader sense, having the display itself is redundant, and an added overhead cost, because they already have these items back at the deli.  But this grocery store has recognized that it’s not about their convenience or preferences, it’s about those of their Customers.

As you can imagine, based on our neighborhood’s glut of grocery stores, we have our choice when it comes to shopping.  I know some people who will cross the street to fill up their car because gas is a penny cheaper over there.  Likewise, we have instances where there are grocery stores across the street from each other, too.  And depending on my route, I’ll often break up a shopping trip between two stores, picking some stuff up at the farther one and swinging by another on the way home for a few remaining items.  Given the varied array of choices, something as simple as taking my preferences into account really means a lot.

This one store realized that it’d be impractical to hire the Property Brothers from HGTV to do a rehab of their entire store to put the deli where it should be.  But what they did do is find a way to make it work for their Customers.

What about your company?  Are things set up in your processes to make them easier for you, or for your Customers?  Where it’s impractical (or impossible) to make a huge change to your processes and systems, do you find workarounds that, while they may not be your first choice, make things simpler and easier or more convenient for your Customers?

We all live in the same world.  Everybody’s got troubles and obstacles.  The brands that take into account the way their solutions impact their Customers’ lives will stand apart and win loyalty.  Those that choose to make things easier for themselves (or don’t even bother to consider the impact to their Customers) will be left behind.