That's the question consumers were asked in spot interviews conducted outside a few supermarkets on the East and West coasts. Their answers varied, but most agreed on one thing: The best way to please customers is to speed up the shopping experience.
"Like many working women, I shop during my lunch hour, and I don't have time to waste," said Joanne Miller, a shopper who was on her way out of a Waldbaum's store in Port Chester, N.Y. "If I could improve on one thing, I'd make the checkouts a lot faster."
The sentiments were similar on the West Coast. "If there's any one area [at this store] that could stand some improvement, it would be that the checkout lines are horrendous on holidays or weekends," said Mercy Mandelbaum, a shopper at a Ralphs Grocery Co. store in the Hancock Park section of Los Angeles.
While the methods of these interviews were certainly unscientific, the comments fit the well-documented national consumer preferences for convenience in shopping. Shoppers in SN's interviews said they sought convenience in a number of ways, including focusing on supermarkets in nearby locations and favoring stores that aren't too cluttered and offer easily accessible parking.
Many also said they look for courteous employees, a full selection of items, fresh meat and produce, cleanliness and low prices. A good number of the shoppers interviewed were generally happy with the stores they use most often, although many said they will travel to nearby locations for specific items for price or other reasons.
The interviews were conducted outside the following locations: East Coast -- Grand Union in Greenwich, Conn.; A&P in Riverside, Conn.; Waldbaum's in Port Chester, N.Y.; West Coast -- Ralphs in the Hancock Park section of Los Angeles; Vons Pavilions, Hollywood, Calif.