Mystery Shopping Test: Nofrills, Wal*Mart

This mystery shopping test was done on Friday March 13, 2009, accompanied by my daughter. She rarely goes with me because she believes, and rightly so, that grocery shopping is boring. I try to impress upon her that without someone doing the shopping we would run out of food and therefore starve because we have no direct conduit to a grocery store built into our house. Trip review: Nofrlls B+, Walmart B

___Nofrills, Kennedy/Finch, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Objective: Sale priced tetrapack apple juice and general weekly shopping.

This week Nofrills continues their two week flyer with an additional single page of specials. None of the products in the extra flyer were very appealing. I specifically searched for their advertised Allen’s apple juice in tetrapack, 24 x 200ml for $3.33. This sale product was not available in the juice aisle nor on the aisle ends, but was available in their overstock sales aisle. At least have a sign in the juice aisle to acknowledge that there is a sale on juice. Very little stock was left, so for sure they will run out before the weekend is over. The juice was well displayed with a price.

It took 3 tries to get a shopping cart that I could somewhat easily push. I’m tired of getting shopping carts that take great effort to push around the store. I find it a great waste of energy and distracts me from having a good shopping experience. Sure they have all wheels, but with a lack of maintenance the carts have cracked parts, some have wheels that lock up, or the wheels don’t turn easily. The one I chose badly needed oil. At least it did not squeak.

In general the store was merchandised very well and was clean. I was able to find all the products I wanted. Corned beef I usually buy was out of stock and has been this way for about two weeks. I still await regular or halal corned beef for $1.99.

Today there were no skids of stock waiting to be unpacked but blocking the aisles. I’m always amazed when staff block aisleways so cannot get my cart through. Once I was almost run into by a small electronic forklift. She was not looking as she backed up, but I was. Otherwise she would have flattened me. Her passing remark of “This machine is dangerous, please stay out of the way” was relayed to the store manager upon checkout. But today there were no theatrics.

Checkout was fast and efficient by my favourite cashier. I’ve been shopping here long enough to know who is good and who will work slowly, so I choose my cashier carefully. Some cashiers get flustered with vendor coupons, or store sales events. At $28 on a credit card, no signature was required. Cardboard boxes were readily available for customers, as expected and always appreciated from this store

___Experience Rating: B+ A good shopping experience with merchandise well layed out and priced. This is why I prefer shopping here.

Walmart, Kennedy/Sheppard, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Walmart, Kennedy/Sheppard, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

___Walmart, Kennedy/Sheppard, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Objective: 4 pack of “D” batteries, 4 pack of 9v batteries, apple juice.

Because it was early in the day there were few customers. There was no greeter. Shopping carts were plentiful and in good working order.

I have had terrible experiences with the electronic department of this Walmart. I found them on multiple occasions to be unhelpful at best and downright lazy at worst. On this occasion I found 3 associates yakking together, laughing out loud, with the main troublemaker in the middle. Is this coincidence? As such, I would never buy an expensive ANYTHING electronic from this store.

The battery aisle was clearly sorted by brand and then by battery type. I, however could not find a 4 pack “D” type in the brand I wanted. Other more expensive brands were available. As I walked the 15′ aisle I noticed that beside the battery display there was a separate and distinct “bulk” battery area, which happened to have my 4 pack. I don’t know why this bulk battery area was not merchandised with the rest of the batteries by brand and type, but if I was not such a particular shopper i would have missed it. At least all batteries were clearly priced.

As I walked to the cashier I noticed two additional battery displays. While most batteries displayed here were duplicates of the main battery area, an additional brand was not. I dropped the 4 pack I had previously chosen and picked up a different brand name.

Down the juice aisle I found my apple juice in can. The price was clearly marked, they had stock and the display was clean and tidy. To be sure I asked my daughter to price check a can. The nearby pole price scanner was broken and turned off, so she had to go to the kidswear area. This scanner has been out of order for some time. A vendor rep told me this was common, and from my observations I agree. At least the display of juice, unlike the last time I was here, had a clearly marked price.

I picked up 10 cans of apple juice. The cashier was fast end efficient, scanning one and doing a multiple to charge me for the 10 cans. In the past some cashiers insisted on me putting all 10 cans onto the conveyor belt so they could scan each and every can. This is such a waste of time. Thankfully this cashier realized that each and every can was identical. Payment was uneventful.

___Experience Rating: B. Walmart usually has very professional merchandising, allowing the shopper to conveniently find merchandise. I’m unsure why there’s this anomaly in the battery section. All wall scanners in the store should be in good working order. The pole of the nearest price scanner was only marked as having a scanner in the East-West direction, and not the North-south direction. No wonder I have problems finding scanners. Clearly marking scanners is inexpensive, so why not do it? And why has this scanner been broken for so many weeks?

___Shopping trips should not be gladiator style struggles between good and evil. A customer should be able to view a sales flyer at home, and along with his shopping list, find, select, purchase and pay for products with little difficulty. This is not much to ask, but seemingly very difficult to achieve.

2 thoughts on “Mystery Shopping Test: Nofrills, Wal*Mart

  1. David Ing

    At corporate supermarkets, checkout clerks are trained to scan every item, rather than scanning one and then hitting a repeat button. There’s less opportunity for “sweethearting”, which means not charging an accomplice for something taken out of the store.

    The correct method for scanning big cans of apple juice should be to drag them across the glass. Most cashiers will pick them up, trying to reduce scratching the scanner glass. If the entire system is designed correctly, the glass will get replaced as a part of regular maintenance, and the cashier is less susceptible to repetitive strain injuries.

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