May 10, 2017

The Milk Bottle is Half Full

The Milk Bottle is Half Full

I’m a somewhat optimistic person which is why when I see something that is inefficient or poorly designed I’m not afraid to think of solutions and ask if they can be implemented. You might say that I’m a milk bottle is half full sort of person. This is why I decided to try to tackle a problem that annoys me and wastes my time whenever I shop at Giant Eagle Market District.

Reducing Giant Eagle Customer Wait Times

I’m interested in reducing Giant Eagle Customer’s wait times specifically those who, like myself, buy their milk in returnable glass bottles. The easiest way to reduce these wait times would be to stop buying milk in bottles that need to be returned but that’s wasteful on a whole other level. Besides Brunton’s milk, the milk that Giant Eagle Market Districts sell in glass bottles is delicious. It’s really the best milk that I’ve ever had and I’ve bought it in all of it’s available forms (whole, 2%, skim, chocolate, and even buttermilk). They’re all delicious and it’s locally produced in Beaver County and bottled in Aliquippa.

Giant Eagle’s Current Process

Giant Eagle’s current process involves returning the bottles to their customer service department. While this doesn’t seem like a big deal if you’re not a regular Brunton’s drinker when you buy it every week it becomes increasingly frustrating to find yourself waiting in line for, at times, upwards of 5 minutes while customer service reps help customers with a wide range of issues all so you can recoup $2 per bottle. The $2 deposit is then added to your next purchase at the register which seems like a more logical place to return the bottles to at least from the customer perspective.

Exploring Giant Eagle’s Perspective

When exploring Giant Eagle’s perspective one can understand that returns at the register might present some issues from minor problems like bottles piling up to challenges for their personnel and their computer system.

Personnel wise their employees already must look up these bottles and often need to ask what the color labels are if they’re not familiar. This too can create a slow down but it’s typically fewer than a couple seconds unless you’re using a self-checkout as the milk isn’t listed in their search anywhere and an employee needs to search for the code and bring it to you.

On the computer system side there are likely a variety of solutions they could employ but all present their own problem. It’s possible that any negative dollar amount (such as deducting the deposit) would require a manager’s override. There are ways around this such as creating a new set of codes for the bottles that doesn’t include the deposit but if one is returning more than they’re buying that doesn’t work. A coupon code could work but I’m not familiar enough with how Giant Eagle’s system works in order to say that this is a viable solution.

Current Status

The current status of this project is that I’ve reached out to Giant Eagle to express my concerns related to the bottle return process. I’m awaiting their reply and considering the idea of building a survey to collect information from other people who buy this incredible milk in glass from Giant Eagle to find out their feelings.

May 10, 2017 | W.D.Orkoskey
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Applied Strategic Design Thinking
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