Retailers: Train Personnel How To Pack Reusable Bags

Retailers: Train Personnel How To Pack Reusable Bags

I constantly hear merchants complain that a plastic bag ban will slow down the check-out lanes. They say it takes longer to bag items in a reusable bag.

Really? Want some cheese with that whine?

If I remember correctly, the same statements were made by retailers years ago when the plastic bag became popular. Back then, a paper bag would sit upright while merchandise was put into it. A plastic bag won't do that and neither will most reusable bags. The plastic bag caused the entire industry to change and eventually the plastic bag carousel was built.

Now, the industry must adapt to reusable bags. Plastic bags are gone in many places - and will be gone entirely within a few years no matter where you go. The era of the single-use plastic bag at check-out is now a dinosaur. Not because it's a bad idea. But because humans are simply too lazy and will not dispose of them properly. See how many places have already banned plastic check-out bags by visiting "BANS".

So Mr./Mrs. Merchant, what to do now? Be a smart business person and adapt to the change. My motto is three A's: Anticipate. Adapt. Achieve. Remember, your customers are adapting also to bringing their own bags. With a little patience and training, you can build a bridge to your customers by teaching your personnel to help your customers make the transition to reusable bags with the least amount of pain.

Here are my tips to handling reusable bags.

Reusable Bag Training Plan
* First and foremost, embrace the idea wholeheartedly! You are giving back by helping the environment, our oceans, and human health.
* Sell your associates on the big picture of why a reusable bag is so important.
* Remove the plastic bag carousels and create a bag-loading workspace with your own reusable bags (and recyclable paper bags) underneath or readily at-hand.
* Post signs that prompt your customers to place their reusable bags on the conveyor belt first. This way, your check-out personnel have the bags before the merchandise.
* Train your customers also to organize their cart and place heavy items, fresh meat or produce together, preferably first, on the check-out counter.
* Train each cashier or bagger exactly how to hold the reusable bag and which items should go into the bag first. With a little practice, your check-out personnel will become proficient.
* In many instances, your customer will want to pack their own bags. Be prepared for this so as to not allow a slow-down in getting other customers checked-out and on their way. Create a 'customer packing area' and simply put the merchandise back into the shopping cart once it is charged to the bill. After paying, the customer pushes the cart to the 'customer packing area' and packs their bags the way he/she wants them packed.
* Keep sanitizer at the check-out stand and teach personnel to frequently sanitize the check-out stand and their hands. You should already be doing this.

In summary, do what you need to do and not what you want to do. I know that old habits are hard to break. This is true of the very customer you are serving, too. They are having to get used to using reusable bags and you are having to get use to packing them. But remember, this is a win-win situation and could actually bolster your business if done right.