Opening a grocery store isn’t easy, and managing one is just as challenging. There’s a lot you have to juggle, down to the minutiae of your business. Everything can affect your customer experience, including how you manage your grocery carts. So how can your grocery cart etiquette improve your store experience?
There are many ways grocery cart etiquette can help or hinder your customer’s experience. Proper maintenance and protocols regarding your carts are a major key to happy customers, but the opposite is also true. Neglecting your carts’ cleanliness, maintenance, and even storage options can waste time and resources and cost you money.
Clean Your Carts
Cleaning your carts is the first step to customer satisfaction. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes. If the cart you choose is grimy and dirty, you will probably freak out and immediately find another cart. If you find that this is a pattern, you might not come back at all. As a business owner, having a customer walk out without buying anything is the last thing you want.
An unclean cart can ruin your customer’s shopping experience from the start and even cause them to leave as quickly as possible. Ensure you wipe down your carts daily and pressure-wash them as often as possible to eliminate grime and germs.
Repair and Maintain Your Carts
Imagine walking into a grocery store and picking a cart with a broken wheel. You may feel this is an unpleasant experience. Now, think of how your customers may feel. Indeed, they would likely get another cart. Worse, they may have to suffer through it because you don’t repair your carts frequently enough, and most of the fleet needs repairs.
Make sure your wheels are well-oiled, fix any broken or loose handles, and inspect your carts before opening your store that day. Take any carts that you need to fix out of circulation. A cart that isn’t functioning properly is also a hazard. It’s not uncommon for a customer to take a faulty cart and get into an accident because it keeps inadvertently steering to the left or right. Any accidents will fall back on your business, so ensure your carts are safe.
Have a Variety of Carts
Giving your customers various cart options is a key part of a happy customer base. Give your customers options for baskets and single, or two-tier metal and plastic grocery carts. This cart variety will help them make choices according to their needs. They can use smaller baskets if they have a smaller list and a larger cart if they have a larger list.
Also, there’s evidence that larger shopping carts can cause customers to buy more. Similar to certain diet tips, you’ll eat less if you have a smaller plate. With a bigger plate, you’ll eat far more. You can use this framework to your advantage and provide customers with bigger and smaller carts to adjust to their buying patterns.
Keep Parking Lot Cart Corrals Well Organized
Your clientele will appreciate it and enjoy their shopping experience more if you are organized in every way. Have you ever seen a store with a disorganized corral? It’s likely to put a bad taste in your mouth before entering the store. Remember, your corral is one of your store’s first contact points. You can even think of it as an extension of your store. Since this is the case, you’ll want to ensure your corrals are in tip-top shape.
Keep Your Carts Organized Within the Store
Keeping your carts organized within the store is essential to running your store like a well-oiled machine. Carts mustn’t be strewn about the store. You should have designated places where customers can put their carts when they finish shopping. This is usually near or part of the exit corridor—which can sometimes double as the entrance. Ensure your employees are on the lookout for stray carts and have a protocol for what to do when they find them. Protocols are key to running smooth operations, and you must implement them at all costs. This is a great way to improve grocery cart etiquette for the best store experience.
We briefly discussed protocols before, but these don’t only apply to employees. They can also apply to customers. While we don’t expect you to have a running list of things that you require in your store—customers will stop coming if they feel you’re bossing them around—there should be things that your employees should look out for as they go throughout their day. For instance, if they see a small child riding on the edge of a shopping cart, they should alert the parents or tell them this behavior isn’t allowed for the safety of the child, the parent, and other customers.
Have Your Employees Check for Abandoned Carts
As much as you wouldn’t want it to be an issue, abandoned shopping carts happen. They can be abandoned in-store or, even worse—outside the store. This is a real problem since you could lose your carts entirely when they’re abandoned outside. Many people take carts and repurpose them for all sorts of reasons, whether you’re dealing with a homeless person who needs a cart to carry their things or an artist looking to repurpose a cart for an installation. Regardless, you’ll never see that cart again.
If carts are abandoned in the store, a person could accidentally trip over them or run into them if they aren’t paying attention. If you see a cart with nothing in it sitting in the middle of an aisle, ask your employees to come to pick it up and place it in a designated area.
Assign Designated Spaces for Customers to Leave Their Carts
Creating designated areas for your shopping carts helps you tremendously on many fronts. It will keep shopping cart abandonment low and help organize your store in a way that aesthetically pleases customers. Organization brings everything together. Mitigate shopping cart abandonment by designating places at the entrance, exit, and in the parking lot for cart returns. Keep your protocols in place to ensure that customers take care of your carts and that your employees are effectively checking for carts that are not put back in their designated areas when customers are done. Operate your store like a well-oiled machine, and you’ll go far. If you’re interested in getting more shopping carts, shop at Carriage Trade Services! We’ll take care of all your shopping cart needs.