Frills Matter

A new No Frills supermarket opened I my neighborhood about two weeks ago. I thought that’s great: it’s new, so it’s clean and fully stocked; and better still, prices are lower than nearly every other market nearby. For example, in my neighborhood, ground beef is about 15% less expensive at No Frills. It’s pretty big, too, with plenty of parking and no lines at the cash.

I needed a few things, so I bought a few items and paid cash at No Frills. It happens to be across the street from Sobeys, so I peeked in the window. To my surprise, people were lined up at the cash waiting. And waiting. And waiting. As I stood there, I watched a few people wait ten minutes in line to pay more at Sobeys, despite the grand opening balloons advertising low prices at No Frills.

I returned to No Frills the following week to do a “big shop.” I went to grab a cart, but they were chained up. You need to deposit a quarter to unlock them. I didn’t have a quarter in my pocket, so I had to go back to the car and get a damn quarter to unlock the shopping cart. “No Frills, that’s for sure,” I thought. I gathered my items, thinking about the deals I was getting and filling my cart. I spent about 45 minutes carefully choosing the best values.

I walked up to the cash, where again there was no line, and the cashier rang up my groceries. It totaled about $200. I handed her my American Express, but she handed it back to me. No Frills accepts only cash, debit, and their house-brand MasterCard. I only had my credit card. The whole shopping trip was wasted. Had I gone to Sobeys, I could have used my credit card. A quarter deposit for the shopping cart isn’t a big deal, but being able to use my credit card is a pretty important “frill.”

Some frills your business and customers can do without. Some are more important. Make sure your customers know what you offer that your competitors do not, and understand what the positive and negative impact will be for them. You might be surprised what “frills” matter to your customers, and what they’re willing to pay for.

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