The ALDI store at Burton Road, Derby, is one of the many retail units belonging to the grocery retailing franchise, ALDI. The operations of every ALDI store rely heavily on customer relationships, satisfaction, providing high-quality products at cheap affordable prices, and the provision of a huge selection of products. ALDI store at Burton road, Derby functions almost efficiently except for one problem, there are usually long queues of customers waiting to be checked out after purchasing goods at the store. Several operating mechanisms put in place are not functioning efficiently, and after a critical analysis of the store’s operation, I came up with a solution that should improve the efficiency of the store and the overall customer satisfaction with the store.
1.2 Identification of Problem Areas in ALDI Store Customer Service
There are about 900 ALDI stores in the United Kingdom (ALDI, 2020), and every single one of them operates on three main core values: consistency, simplicity, and responsibility. The mode of operations and several high-quality unbranded products offered by ALDI has given them a major competitive advantage over other similar discount retail stores, some of which include the ability to offer high-quality products at affordably cheap rates, regular customer discounts for products, and large consumer market/audience.
After examining the operations of the ALDI retail store at Burton Road, Derby, it was observed that this particular ALDI store has a problem with its customer checkout operations and services. The ALDI store at Burton road has unavailability of customer self-service checkout system in their operations, and also have ineffective checkout till operation system since only 4 out of their 7 tills function properly. The result of the mentioned problems is the constant occurrence of a lengthy queue of customers, which in turn leads to customer dissatisfaction and bad customer service during busy hours.
According to the empirical results obtained by Teresa and Rui (2017, p.86) in their research on self-checkout in retail stores, there is evidence that self-checkout attributes positively impact user perceptions of service quality. The speed of using a retail store’s service and perceived ease-of-use were observed to be important determinants of customers’ evaluation of self-checkout quality.
From the business operation model used by ALDI, it is clear that a huge part of their business relies on customer loyalty and satisfaction, innovation, and early adoption. As indicated in ALDI’s about us page, during the early years of ALDI, they allowed their customers to buy goods on account and pay later to inspire customer loyalty, and they become the first store in Germany to open a self-service store. Therefore, as a means of keeping their customer loyalty at an optimum, ensuring that the ALDI store at Burton road installs a self-service checkout system and keeping all of their checkout tills operational will increase customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Figure 1 below highlights the relationship between speed of service delivery, usage frequency, ease of use, and perceived quality by the customer. High perceived quality leads to overall satisfaction and repatronage intention.
1.3 Operational Strategy for Sustained Business Success in ALDI Store’s Customer Service operations
The operational strategy that I would recommend to improve the operational performance of the ALDI store at Burton road, Derby is a combination of instructions encouraging customers to visit the stores during the less busy hours of the day, installing self-service checkout machines, and making all seven tills operational.
Here is a list of the specific actions that should be taken to increase efficiency and customer satisfaction.
• There should be a reintroduction or installation of customer self-service checkout machines that would operate in line with the store’s quiet to busy hours, according to the data supplied by the ALTI store. This would help to reduce customers’ waiting time and improve customer satisfaction.
• By ensuring that all seven tills in the store are operation and effectively staffed either by employing more employees or reassigning employees to various stations, more customers can be attended to in a shorter time frame. This would reduce the traffic caused by unattended customers.
• An effective operational strategy would be to operate both the self-service and till services checkouts during the very busy periods of 8:00 am to 6:00 pm for increased checkout performance.
• To ensure that cost is kept low while still keeping customer satisfaction at optimal levels, the self-service mechanisms should be operated during the quiet times as indicated by the company data alongside two or three tills to free up more staff for customer interactions. This would mean the number of required staff can be kept the same or increased only slightly to operate the new till stations.
The areas of strategic operations focused on by my proposed solution to the problem statement are technology and innovation, which in turn affects service/process design.
By installing self-checkout mechanisms at the ALDI store in Burton Road, Derby, the number of customers left waiting in the queue would reduce significantly and provide a better customer experience, leading to better customer advertisement in the form of word of mouth. Due to the Coronavirus pandemic and several restrictions put on customer and staff interactions, at least one store in the Burton area has started trialling the use of self-service tills. The store is one of the branches of the Co-op store located near Burton (Helen, 2020). By installing new self-checkout mechanisms in the ALDI store located in Burton road, ALDI strategically gives it a competitive advantage over other retail stores in the area selling similar products. Also, ALDI has years of early adoption practices and usage of self-checkout machines to apply them effectively in this branch.
To ensure that customers are kept satisfied and the cost of operation is kept as low as possible, the use of self-checkout mechanisms should be maximized during the busy and quiet hours of ALDI store operations. According to the information provided on the official ALDI website (Figure 2). For efficiency, the self-checkout machines and till services should be employed during the busy times, which range from 8 am to 3 pm. Both forms of checkout should continue to be operated up until the quietest period of 6 pm. From 7 pm till the closing time of 10 pm when the company describes it as being the slowest in terms of customer patronage, the self-checkout services should be mostly put in operation, while most of the staff members at the till stations should be allowed to interact more with customers outside of the till section. This approach will reduce the need for increased staff service at the store and improved customer relationships, which, according to several studies, is very important to the success of retail stores.
Generally, companies must be competitive to sell their goods and services in the marketplace. This is especially true for a company that relies heavily on offering goods sold by other large retail franchises at a lower cost. According to Stevenson (2015), quick response can be a competitive advantage as it allows the company to quickly bring new or improved products and services to the market. A very important aspect of quick response is being able to quickly deliver existing products and services to a customer after they are ordered. Attending quickly to a customer’s complaints is a huge part of quick response in an organization.
Installing new self-service units in the ALDI store at Burton road, Derby would provide it with the competitive advantage that comes with quick response.
William states in his book that there are three basic business strategies necessary for business growth, namely, low cost, responsiveness, and differentiation from competitors (Stevenson, 2015). The solution proffered in this text is a form of functional strategy which contributes to the overall organizational strategy of ensuring that the customer is always getting the best in terms of service and products from ALDI stores.
The proposed functional strategy satisfies all three conditions of basic business strategies necessary for business growth. The little to no increase in the number of staff required to operate the newly installed self-service mechanisms at the ALDI store ensures that the cost of operation can be kept relatively low while increasing the quality of customer service. The major reason for the proposed changes (installing new machines and making sure all seven tills are operational while alternating the use of the self-checkout systems) is to improve the responsiveness of the checkout team by reducing the queue time required for checkout. Lastly, according to the article by Helen (2020), only one major retail store in Burton has installed self-checkout machines, and they are still at the trial stage. The full integration of the new machines at the ALDI store at Burton Road, Derby, ensures that they are differentiated from their competition and can guarantee customer satisfaction at checkout at all times.
Installing and rationing the use of self-service stations, as well as ensuring that all seven till stations are fully operational, are, therefore, very effective approaches to solving the problem of long customer queues at checkout stations and enhancing the overall customer experience at the ALDI store at Burton Road, Derby.
To ensure that the operation at the ALDI store at Burton road, Derby is sustainable, efficient, and relevant, the idea of order qualifiers and order winners as illustrated by Stevenson (2015) will be taken into account. According to Stevenson, order qualifiers are the characteristics of an organization that customers perceive to be the minimum standard acceptable for a product or service before it can be considered for purchase. Order winners, on the other hand, are the characteristics of an organization’s goods or services that cause the organization to be perceived as better than the competition (Stevenson, 2015).
The newly installed self-service checkout machines will become part of the order winners for ALDI and will over time become order qualifiers because customers would soon come to expect their full operation as a minimum standard required for patronage. To ensure that the machines stay operational, certain maintenance practices and employees have to be put in place to ensure that the machines are continually serviced and ready for operation every day.
Figure 3: Planning and Decision Making are hierarchical in organizations
Stevenson W.J. (2015) “Operations Management” Rochester Institute of Technology, 2015, 11th edition, pg.85, viewed 31 Dec 2020,
Figure 3 above illustrates the relationship between functional goals and organizational strategies. The solution proffered in this text falls under both the marketing and operations strategies aspects of functional goals (strategies).
Another point to note is that according to the results of research by Katriina (2009), it was found that customers would like to have personal contact with sales personnel and get to know them even better. By installing self-service check out machines, the salespersons would have the opportunity to spend more time talking with the customers than if they simply sat at a desk.
From a general observation of the practices and operational model of the ALDI store at Burton road, Derby, it was found that there was a lot of customer dissatisfaction that arose as a result of long checkout queues that the branch was experiencing. A critical analysis of the store showed that out of their seven installed tills, only four were operational, and there was no self-service checkout system for customers to use. It was, therefore, suggested that the non-functional tills should be repaired and made functional, and new self-service checkout stations should be installed to reduce the queue lengths at checkout stations and improve the overall customer service of the store.
By justifying my solution with several research parameters and observational sources, it is plausible to say the ALDI store at Burton Road, Derby, would benefit immensely in terms of efficiency, customer satisfaction, and overall operational effectiveness of its checkout system by implementing my solution.
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