Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Mushroom Soup 2.0

The other day I bought a new computer because I needed a new computer, not wanted a new computer, right? Needed. Not like needed knee surgery but more like needed a Swedish au pair. That sort of needed.

Computer stores are very special. You walk in with that certain look in your eye and within billions of nanoseconds trained personnel help you select what you need, give you a bunch of free stuff and sell you a whole bunch of other stuff you had no idea how you lived without. They make you king of your world .

Anyway, I had the most excellent experience at the computer store, and how can one have anything but a most excellent experience at a computer store, got me to thinking about how it would be if all stores were like computer stores.

I mean, what if Kroger’s operated like a computer store.

Cue “Dream Sequence” music...

“Hello, Sir, welcome to Kroger’s. My name is Bob and I’m here to make your shopping experience efficient and memorable. How might I help you today?”

“Well, actually, I’m looking for a can of mushroom soup.”

“Mushroom soup? Excellent choice! (Bob scans the store for a Soup Specialist.) Here, let me introduce you to Hari who is one of our Soup Specialists. Hari, this gentleman is interested in our Mushroom Soup offerings and perhaps you could get him acquainted with our product line. Nice meeting you, Sir.” Bob spotted a new customer and set off to greet her.

Hari said, “If you will accompany me to Aisle 9 I can show you what we have in stock and answer any questions you have about applications for Mushroom Soup. Were you planning on just cooking the soup or making some other kind of dish with it?”

“Well, I was thinking about making a green bean casserole that would use mushroom soup, topped with fried onion bits.”

Hari noted this on his ScratchPad, and subtly signaled for Bean and Onion specialists to meet him at Aisle 9.

“Here we are, sir,” said Hari, arriving at Aisle 9, “As you can see we have a lot of Mushroom Soup in stock. Uh, were you contemplating any particular size?”

“Yes, I was thinking of getting a seven point five ounce can. The recipe called for an eight ounce can but I figured I could get by with seven point five.”

Hari looked at his feet, then at the ceiling as if invoking wisdom from the gods, then locked eyes and delivered the facts, that is the bad and good news.

“If you had come in two months ago, sir, we would have had seven point five ounce cans of Mushroom Soup in stock and plenty to spare. But, soup technology moves on and the company has upgraded the entire product line.”

“What does that mean?”

“It means, sir, that the most basic Mushroom Soup we provide today is ten point seven five ounces.”

“Whoa, baby! Ten point seven five? Really! That’s amazing. I didn’t think anybody could ever use ten point seven five. That just boggles the mind.”

About that time the Bean and Onion specialists arrived and, Hari thought, not a moment too soon.

Hari pulled a can of Mushroom Soup off the shelf and presented the problem to the new specialists.

“We have a requirement for a bean and mushroom soup casserole with fried onion topping that calls for a seven point five ounce can of mushroom soup, but our new product line starts at ten point seven five. So, what can we do to help this customer meet his business requirement?”

The Bean Specialist spoke first. “Well, Bean technology has been keeping pace with the Mushroom Soup and we now offer a nine point zero ounce can of French cut green beans that, if drained properly, would be the perfect compliment to the increased size of Mushroom Soup.”

The Onion Specialist picked up on the cue and added, “Yes, in addition our new line of Fried Onions come in eight, nine and ten ounce cans and I think the mid-range offering, nine ounce, would be perfect for this application.”

Hari mulled this over briefly and didn’t look too happy. “But what about the casserole dish? Won’t we need at least a one quart glass dish?”

A pall descended on the team. This new revelation seemed to be a sticking point. Granted, the upgraded sizes of soup and beans presented a delivery problem for the customer.

Suddenly, the Bean Specialist had an idea. “Wait a second! We just got a shipment of one quart flan dishes over on Aisle 7 and they would be perfect.”

“Are you sure,” Hari inquired.

“Certain, sir. The expansion factor with the new bean can size is negligible and the onions will cover it perfectly.”

Hari keyed his radio, “Hari to Aisle 7. We need a Flan Dish Specialist over here on Aisle 9 and bring a one quart. Over.”

Soon I was on my way back to the truck with my ingredients and a brand new one quart flan dish that I didn’t even knew I needed. Arriving at the truck I unloaded the shopping and in doing so a small piece of paper fluttered to the asphalt.

Oh, the shopping list. I had a quick check and read “mushroom soup, beans, fried onions, milk, bread.”

Dang, forgot the milk and bread. No matter, as long as I’m here I’ll just go back and get them.

Entering the store...

“Hello, Sir, my name is Bob how might I help you today.”

“No problem, Bob, I’m just picking up some milk and bread.”

Bob keyed his radio, “I need Milk and Bread Specialists to the red zone. I repeat. I need Milk and Bread Specialists to the red zone.”

Bob turned and said, “Don’t worry, sir, someone will be here to help you shortly.”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I prefer the self-service variety of store, where you can find a sales rep. IF and WHEN you need them. The computer store hovering sales reps bug me. But at Best Buy, I usually need one because I've got a list of DVDs & CDs from himself for me to purchase... and I have no clue how to find them in the vast number of shelves at Best Buy. Even if they are new releases, they are hardly ever with the new releases. Soon (starting Friday) comes the time to avoid all stores, except the grocery store, as the dreaded Holiday Shopping Season is upon us.