Home > Business, Process Improvement > Your Business Process Should Make Sense

Your Business Process Should Make Sense

The other day I was at CostCo and realized they were scanning a barcode, that was affixed to the cash register, during each and every transaction.  I inquired into what the purpose was.  The cashier told me the barcode was scanned to verify they checked the bottom of the cart to make sure all products was scanned.

It turns out CostCo has a major problem; items in the bottom of the cart are frequently not scanned before  customers leave the store. The cashier told me that they repeatedly discuss this problem in team meetings.  I would agree that this problem could be very costly, and that it would be a significantly larger problem at CostCo compared to most other stores since there are so many large heavy items for sale at CostCo.

I was rather puzzled.  I didn’t whiteness any obvious attempt by the cashier to verify the bottom of the cart was empty.  I admit they could have just been checking while they scanned other products, but I was still confused.I thought to my self as I was being rung up, this solution was half baked.  I was impressed the company realized the gravity of this problem, and that they decided to put a solution in place to make sure the cashier was verifying the cart was completely empty before finalizing the transaction.  But, there was one glaring problem to me; the process didn’t actually solve the problem.

Scanning a barcode next the scanner didn’t really accomplish the goal.  Yes, the cashier was required to scan the barcode during every transaction.  But that process didn’t actually make the cashier look at the bottom of the cart.  If this scan was done on every transaction, I would assume it would be come second nature to scan the barcode.  Scanning would be the habit, not looking at the bottom of the cart.

CostCo made a good attempt, but one small change would make the solution perfect.  Barcode labels are incredibly cheap, why not affix the barcode to the bottom of every cart instead of just the cash registers? Affixing the barcode to every cart would require the cashier to actively look at the bottom of each cart, verifying it was empty, guaranteeing no products were left un-scanned.  The cost to implement this solution would be negligible, and the benefits would be astronomical.

When implementing your own business process, make sure it makes sense.  What was the goal of the process?  Is your new process accomplishing that goal?

  1. January 26, 2011 at 3:02 PM

    Another simple solution? Warn them, write them up, and after a set number of warnings, show them the door. Yeah, that sounds harsh, but it’s simple, and effective.

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