The retailer is putting more belted check-outs into 200 stores over the next nine months, and increasing staffing numbers on existing belted check-out lanes and self-scanning check-out areas to reduce customer waiting times.
Coles will also install new service desks and increase the number of team members staffing them so that customers needing assistance can be served faster, and increase the number of express lanes (12 items or less) in stores.
While changes in customer shopping habits (more frequent visits, smaller baskets) drove the rollout of self-scanning check-outs, the ‘return’ of staff to the front of the store reflects changes in the supply chain.
The increase in self-scanning check-outs enabled Coles to reallocate staff hours to other parts of the store, such as hand-stacking fresh produce, or working in in-store bakeries. Since that decision was made, Coles has greatly overhauled its supply chain.
Many small changes – changing the way groceries are packed by the manufacturer, standardised carton sizes and milk roll cages that slide straight into the fridge – have freed up staff time. Coles says it will be deploying these staff hours into areas that better serve customers, including putting people back on check-outs.
“We’ve been working for a few years to simplify our stores,” Coles Operations Director Andy Coleman said. “This has freed up team-member hours and we’re now investing these hours across the store.
“We’re putting more hours into our fresh food areas, investing in training more bakers and butchers and we’re increasing the number of team members on check-outs. We’ve always had staffed check-outs available, but we are always looking at ways to help customers shop at Coles.”
In FY15, Coles invested 170,000 hours of face-to-face and on-the-job staff training across fresh (deli, bakery, fresh produce and meat), undertaken by 50 per cent more team members than the previous year. A further 120,000 hours is planned for FY16.