Look familiar? Yes, more little yellow tag barcodes from Hancock Fabrics.
If you didn't have a chance to read my original post about these you can do so here. (Just don't forget to come back, okay?)
My post was picked up by a reporter and soon after that I was contacted by Hancock Fabric's VP of Operations with an invitation to call her/him to share my experiences. As I mentioned at the time, I'm impressed that the company reached out to me.
When our conversation began she/he made sure to tell me how Hancock Fabrics values their customers (us!) and how she/he read my post - and your comments - with great interest. They are interested in hearing what we have to say.
I tried to remember all of your comments and questions when I spoke to her/him and hopefully you'll find answers below.
Here's what I learned about Hancock Fabrics' yellow tag / barcode system.
- Yes, it's new. It was rolled out nationwide 6 to 8 weeks ago.
- The system underwent testing for 90 days in approximately 24 chains through out the nation before it went national.
- District managers reported no issues with the barcode system. In fact the reports back were/are mostly positive.
- Headquarters received reports from stores that the tags remained on all fabrics.
- Initial reports from store indicate that the system seems to work okay- if I remember correctly she/he was referring to the correct pricing showing up at the cutting tables.
- The system is intended to improve both speed and accuracy at the cutting table and the check out counter.
- It should improve the accuracy at the cutting table, because the cutter can now see the price of the fabric. If it's not showing up on sale, it will be caught at this point, not after the customer has checked out.
- It is a static barcode, so it shouldn't matter if multiple clerks share a roll of labels. This is the example that was given to me: Customer (you) wants 3 yards of red wool. (Okay, they said broadcloth, but I like wool better...) You tell cutter quantity desired; cutter repeats back yardage to you for verification; cutter cuts fabric; cutter inputs into the scanner; cutter scans info onto yellow barcode. At that point the information is "married" to the information in the system.
- Supposedly if your tag falls off between the cutting table and the check out all that needs to happen is that you go back to the cutting table and have them rescan the info and create a new tag. (Now you know I see a problem with this... I'll elaborate later.)
- They choose not to have printers at the cutting tables (ala Joann's) due to upkeep (and I imagine extra costs ... maintenance, paper, ink, etc.)
- If an item is not showing the correct price at the cutting table, it could be for a number of reasons. The fabric was a manager's special, it was wrapped on an incorrect bolt, or it simply was missed in the programming.
- She/he asked me to send him a copy of my receipt so the overage could be taken care of. It took some time, but hey, it was the holidays. I think most companies and people tend to slow down just a bit during that time. And they are making it right.
- She/he also wanted to see the item that rang up incorrectly so they could share it with their IT guy/gal. I haven't heard back if this item was indeed not in the system correctly or what the cause was.
- I think they're trying hard to improve their process and eliminate bottlenecks.
- Do I think this is the perfect solution? No. But it's a start. I understand why the company wants to improve processes. I'm sure one reason is to keep their operating costs down. Which I want, and I assume you want too, otherwise those costs will continue to be passed on to us.
- Right now, this feels more store-friendly than customer-friendly. It relies heavily on customer-service oriented cutters at the cutting table that are willing to repeat your fabric order back to you. It relies on customers keeping an eagle eye on those tags.
- The tag missing from the fabric sounds like a lose-lose situation. Think about it. You're at the checkout with seven pieces of cut fabric. As the cashier is scanning your fabrics your heart sinks as you realize one yellow tag is missing. You now have to go back to the cutting table to get a replacement tag. This not only embarrasses you (or maybe it's only me that feels embarrassed when something doesn't ring up right and there's a huge line of impatient people behind me.) but it irritates the customers standing in line behind you. You either wait behind everyone at the cutting table to get your replacement tag (which irritates you) or you cut in front of the line (which irritates the other customers). In the meantime the cashier has to decide whether or not to wait for you, or cancel your order and begin ringing everyone else up.
- True life example: My husband visited Hancock Fabrics to purchase a gift card (for me!). He was in the checkout line behind a lady whose yellow tag had fallen off of one of her fabrics. She - the customer, not the sales associate - was sent back into the store to search for the missing tag while the other customers waited (and hoped that it wouldn't happen to them). In this case, hubby reported that they did eventually open another checkout line.
I know I'm playing devil's advocate here. However, I visited a Hancock Fabrics store this past weekend so I could test out the system again. (All right, I admit it. I also had that gift certificate burning a hole in my pocket.)
As this post as gotten rather lengthy I'll share my latest visit with you tomorrow. Let's just say I'm glad I knew about the new barcode system and was prepared.
So I'm curious.
- What do you think? Do you like the new barcode system? Do you find it more accurate? Is it speeding up your check out time? Do you have burning questions about the system that didn't get answered?