Friday, September 7, 2007

Why is retailing sometimes so off-target?

Yesterday's retail adventure was at Target, where I had an epiphany that was, frankly, so slow in coming that it probably doesn't rate as one. Let's set the stage: I was buying something large for my husband's birthday today, but, when I got to the cash register, the UPC code on the item was missing. My mind immediately went into "prepare for massive delay" because, of course, someone was going to have to find the item, figure out what the UPC code was and get the price. And, then, as I waited there, I thought, "Why, in this day and age, does finding the right price and UPC code have to involve someone physically finding the product?" Shouldn't the cashier be able to type the product name into her keyboard, and get the price and SKU? (And shouldn't all of that information be completely cross-referenceable?) Of course, what unfolded was the usual. Some worker was commandeered to walk to the aisle 50 yards away, find the item, and then come back to the cashier. She was carrying a calculator-like device in which she'd input the UPC code, and then, she held it next to the cashier, who typed it into her keyboard. We all go through this routine all the time, but, hey, what year is this? 1985?

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