Why is it that Amazon is Doing So Well?

After 11 days on the road we needed groceries. More and more we buy from Amazon’s Prime Panty. While we were on the road we neglected to place an order from Prime Pantry. Their fulfillment center’s are fast, but in this case it wouldn’t be fast enough.

Much of the fresh produce and meat we purchase comes from local vendors. Then, there are those times where we need a lot in a hurry. This was one of those times and meant a trip into town. We did stop at Bright’s Delights, a local produce stand, on the way into town where we loaded up on tomatoes, okra, squash, and green beans.

A lot in a hurry means staples. Our choices are Farm Fresh, Food Lion, or Wal-Mart. On this particular day we really needed to stock up and wanting to save cash we found ourselves at Wal-Mart in Elizabeth City.

Wal-Mart does have lower prices. We go shopping with a list, which we separate, grab two carts, pull the lower priced items off the shelf and queue to check out in about 15 minutes. We’ve got speed shopping down to an art. Although the sights throughout the mega-store can be similar to a side show we stay focused and get out. Well, we hurry along and then we stand in line.

Today I timed the wait in the queue. From the moment we entered the checkout line, ours backed-up past the vats of out-dated discounted DVDs, mouthwashes, and candy tubs to the “Fine Jewelry” counter, to the moment the cashier scanned our first item – 20 minutes.

During our wait the customer parked ahead of us said, “I know what their plan is – it’s to make us use the self-check out.” We mentioned we had considered the self-check out. The problem with self-check out, “We done it and it never works.”

You can make out the 3 open check out lines

The customer ahead sighed, “I know, it’s never worked for me either, and this time I have a gift card.” We figured the gift card would lock things down for a bit.

When self-check out operates properly it’s okay. We used self-check out exclusively at the Giant in Easton, Maryland before we sold that house relocated to North Carolina. We used self-check out at Home Depot in Athens, Georgia last Friday it was flawless. The ones here at Wal-Mart in Elizabeth City offer challenges that push patience.

Waiting in the line next to us was a mother with her 5-year old daughter. The poor child had all she could stand. Mama sent her over to a candy tub to search for a delicacy. This calmed the child as well as Mama’s Prozac.

The last time we shopped at Wal-Mart their computer system failed and no one could check out. We waited way too long. I suggested leaving the cart and heading over to Farm Fresh since we had to drive past on our way home. Brenda, my wife, not one to be defeated fought on and we waited.

On today’s wait our shopping cart included one bottle of wine. That would never pass muster at self-check out. Every bottle we’ve tried to slip past the customer operated payment system ended up needing a store representative to verify and confirm our ages. The wine purchaser age check delay combined with classification locks and system reboots conducted by a store expert increases time spent experiencing the Wal-Mart during self-check out.

Back in line our friend, Mike, the customer waiting ahead of us (we were now on a first name basis) continued to explore his idea that Wal-Mart’s plan is to redirect shoppers to check themselves out. I doubted the plan suggesting, “Mike, to have a plan someone has to think.” At this point he stopped arguing at just the right moment – it was his turn with the cashier.

Mike had 7 items. We were getting close! I could almost feel the parking lot outside.

Mike’s gift card failed. He’d made it to the cashier, his seven items scanned, his card failed. Mike, Brenda, and I just laughed! We knew it would fail. The card was good. Mike was innocent of creating the failure. Three attempts by the cashier and his line supervisor was all it took for Mike to hit pay dirt. Mike was free and clear. We were up to bat.

During the wait for Mike’s gift card to clear we’d unloaded our potential purchases. Unlike Mike’s seven items, no the 20 item or less check out line was not open; Brenda and I piled our goods on the biofilm saturated conveyer belt. The cashier went about his business of sliding, scanning, and stuffing items into urban tumbleweed bags hooked to a small merry-go-round. Seven minutes later he was done. Brenda inserted her debit card to pay – it failed. The cashier and his supervisor worked out a few keystrokes and within a several more minutes we were free to leave with our purchases.

We departed with only three items on our list not accounted for. We’ve never experienced a trip to Wal-Mart when they’ve had everything on our list. This trip we missed: fresh basil, shelled edamame and coconut milk. We can get the coconut milk (for a recipe) from Amazon’s Prime Panty. The fresh basil we’ll get out of our neighbor Jimmy’s garden. They have the shelled edamame at Farm Fresh.

We’d be passing the Farm Fresh on our way home, anyway.