What cashiers need to know

May 06, 2013

Perhaps it is time to add another module of training for cashiers?

Often we talk about the power of the bagger. That this person is typically the last touch point for a shopper, and how a smile, thank you or offer to help you to your car can reinforce the relationship to the store.

And then there is the cashier.

One step before the bagger experience – the cashier is that person who is responsible for proper scanning and taking the shopper’s money; all too often a lightning-fast and unemotional experience. 

A couple weeks ago I attended the Association of Coupon Professionals annual symposium in New Orleans, where there was a consumer panel of mid to heavy coupon users (but fell short of the dreaded “extreme couponers” group) discussing what they liked, didn't like and the future of couponing. The one discussion that surprised me was how these six female shoppers all agreed that they saw the cashier as “the enemy.”

They related nightmare stories where they were in head to head arguments over coupons. One panelist shared how she presented a coupon which was clearly marked “good on any size” of a particular product, but the photo showed only one size product – so the cashier demanded that it was only valid on that size. After a few minutes of frustrating arguing, the shopper left with her coupons to go to another supermarket, and has not returned.

Another shared frustration with most cashiers that she encounters who don't know how to scan coupons that are downloaded to her mobile device. Another shopper is angry that she spends time downloading coupons from CPG brand websites, only to find stores that will not accept downloaded coupons.

The panel offered a unique insight into the future of couponing: “eliminate the cashier as gatekeeper.” The first reaction is sure, they want to avoid the cashier so they could take advantage of the store. But the more they discussed the concept it became clear that it wasn’t about cheating the store, it was about avoiding conflict with cashiers who clearly did not want to redeem their coupons or wouldn’t take the time to read the fine print.

The solution, as you may suspect, is not self-checkout. These shoppers do not want to avoid human contact, they want the exact opposite: to improve the checkout and couponing experience and to be respected as people, and not to be made outcasts by their use of coupons. Perhaps it is time to add another module of training for cashiers.