Super METRO Update.
Well, it has been just over 4 months now since the Gaisano Super Metro Hypermarket opened it’s doors to Calbayog City. I’m sure it has been a rough ride for many company employees (and the management) but things are beginning to feel almost normal inside these days. The lines, while still long at certain times of the day, are not as long as they once were. During the first weeks the store was open, it was not uncommon to stand in line for over an hour to get checked out. I know many customers have been disappointed as you could measure the level of frustration by the number of abandoned shopping carts seen around the store, on a daily basis. I personally know a few folks that were guilty of abandoning their carts and I can’t blame them. I am also not the only to bend an employees ear from time to time about all the inefficiencies that this store opened with. Sometimes I think that the store was so rushed to meet the opening deadline, employees were never fully trained for the main event. It’s probably the very reason so many temporary employees were brought up from the Cebu store for the opening. Oh, the store looked absolutely wonderful when the doors first opened… so neat, clean and orderly. But after the first 6 hours, and into the next several weeks, most days it looked as though the tropical cyclone season came early for the Gaisano Group. The store was in such disarray after the first day, it took many weeks to recover.
Michael, a store employee that works in the front office, met with me one day during that first hectic week and proactively walked the store with me while I offered up some of my personal retailing thoughts. I am no expert in large grocery operations by no means, but I did grow up (sporadically) in the family grocery business (two grocery stores with a dash of truck-stop/restaurant business thrown in for good measure). And while the retail business has changed over the years, common sense still prevails in any retailing business. Some of the things I pointed out to this employee was not rocket science. For example, the store created their own problems with long lines causing many abandoned baskets full of goods because of simple front-end mismanagement. Just by opening two additional check-out registers during the busiest shopping times would save tens of thousands of pesos in losses in a single day, maybe more! Taking into consideration lost sales, spoilage, and re-stocking labor costs, just two additional cashiers for a couple of hours per day could save the company big time! During my walk with Michael around the store, we counted 13 abandoned shopping carts full of products, including meats and refrigerated items. Then there were even more carts and hand baskets with more product left for the restocking crew. Michael and I estimated that it would take over 1 full man-hour to completely re-stock one large shopping cart full of product across the store. And when you consider one full cart averaged P2,500 in product (a fair retail guesstimate between him and I), it all adds up to over P32,000 in potential lost revenue, just at the register. This does not include the numbers of other lesser filled carts and hand baskets, spoilage, and additional re-stocking labor costs. It is not uncommon to find a one-kilo package of warm ground pork (or any other perishable items) stashed on an end-cap somewhere. For what they were losing each day, they could have opened ALL the registers in the entire store and still been way ahead, especially in the Customer Satisfaction department!
A Common Sense Approach.
Because Michael seemed to be an intelligent individual and is well versed in English (a bright spot for Gaisano), he understood every problem concept I threw at him. He is the one initially who asked me to walk around with him. This was not a problem for me because my wife was going to be standing in the check-out line for an hour anyway! He said he would note everything and report his findings to management. Like the wilting celery, broccoli, and cauliflower sitting on a dry goods shelf, all the while non-refrigerated items took up space in the chiller box. Or the blocks of mozzarella cheese located in the back of the wall freezer behind the lumpia wrappers. Cheese should be in the chiller with the dairy products! Diba? Then there was the blocking of the main front aisle by all the people standing in queues. Shoppers were unable to get from one aisle to the next because of this blockage. Access to the bread isle was completely blocked and nobody could get to any bread product. The express line was the longest line in the store, with waits of over an hour to get checked out, and again, every long line was blocking access to product. I also explained to him that they were losing customers back to the “other” grocery store because of long wait times (my wife hates that store and has been back several times since). Customers would enter the store only to get a glimpse of the long lines and immediately turn around and leave. Patrons that needed just a handful of items were not coming to Super Metro (or “Super Slo” as my wife refers to it now). I later learned from another store employee that because the crowded isle situation was so bad, Super Metro had already lost 5 vendors who pulled out in the early going because of the difficulty to re-stock – all because of blocked access to their product.
The store seemingly has suffered some growing pains and has improved tremendously since first opening, but not all is perfect yet. The first week my wife applied and received her “loyalty card” and has used it faithfully, but has yet to be able to cash in on the points she has earned because the system is “not fully functional” yet? So they say. There is still a lot of product on the shelf with mismatched shelf pricing, as well as product on the shelf that has not been entered into the pricing system. As of about 10 days ago, I was told the automatic inventory re-order system was intentionally disabled, for who knows what reason, and customer service is not… well, not very customer friendly. Some people wait at that counter almost as long as they wait to check-out! The FOREX is still not operational, and there still is no front-end organization (queue management and shopping cart retrieval). Cashiers commonly need to step in and help bag groceries (shortage of baggers?) which continues to dampen overall check-out efficiency. Turnover at the store appears to be high (I know, because my nephew only worked there one day!) which adds to more training deficiencies.
Overall, we do like shopping there. Things are improving and it is nice to be able to take your time shopping, in air-conditioned comfort, regardless of whether you find what you are looking for. Some days, like today, it can be almost as exciting as winning the lotto (well, I’m not entirely sure of that correlation because I have never won the lotto). For example; today during my search and destroy mission, I found taco seasoning, taco shells, taco sauce, lettuce, and red tomatoes, all in the same day! My luck did fall a little short though as the cheddar cheese was out of stock! And if you notice the picture in the video below, you will see half an aisle stocked with Microwave Popcorn. I don’t know a Filipino in Calbayog City who owns a microwave oven… except maybe my wife. And she doesn’t eat popcorn!
Watch today’s video (posted to my YouTube channel) below. And don’t forget to Like, Share, and SUBSCRIBE for more videos!