Observation report on six locations i frequent regularly
Observation Report on Six Locations I Frequent Regularly *I’ve opted out of taking pictures, simply because it was either prohibited or unwelcomed at the locations I’ve chosen. Thus, this assignment was completed in report form instead of a presentation Location Number 1: Famer’s Market I visit my local farmer’s market every week. It is a huge concrete building and looks uninviting. What drew me to it initially were online reviews. The doors are automatic and always closed until you step up to the building. The parking lot is huge and always crowded. The store sign is not visible from the road but appears huge once you approach the building. The colors and font are outdated and not attractive or inviting. The interior matches that. The ceiling are extremely high, the temperature is kept at around 60F. This is basically a huge hall with different sections, showered with fluorescent light. In other words, this is a highly functional and equally uninviting place. People are loud, there is no music playing, it smells like fish in every section of the store. Once you have picked up your groceries –and you want to make this whole experience fast, it’s just not that pleasant – you exit through two designated doors that will take you to a large room with about 40 cash registers. They are outdated wooden boxes. You can only pay with cash or debit card here. Everyone working here is from foreign countries and speaks very little English. Everyone is nice, even though I’ve experienced occasional dissatisfaction from other customers who interpret different cultures and customs as rudeness. The cashiers all wear the same blue jacket and there are lots of employees. I would estimate the ratio to be about 3:10. The store is considered a world market and contains items from nearly every part of the store. I never doubted that the employees shopped there themselves. I did verify this with a few employees. This store is not organized like most others in that the cheapest items are not always located at the bottom of the shelves. It is organized by regional items. It does not make too much sense at first, but again, this is a highly functional space. Once you’ve explored it, you know how to navigate it quickly and efficiently. On weekends, more effort is put into free samples and customer satisfaction. The store seems to up it’s game for weekends, however, I hardly ever go on Saturdays and Sundays simply because it becomes too crowded. Customers always leave with something, mostly produce. The sole benefit of shopping at this particular farmer’s market is the freshness of the products in relation to its very affordable price. Location Number 2: Indian Fast Food Restaurant A new Indian fast food restaurant recently opened near my work place. They have an efficient step-‐by-‐step process that is easy to follow. You pick your carb, then your protein and then condiments. Lastly, you add sides or drinks and then check out at the register, which is located next to the preparation area. The staff is extremely friendly , mostly in their 20s or 30s while focused and efficient. They all wear the same T-‐Shirt, but the rest of their outfits are casual and differ from one another. The store draws customers in by using signs that were obviously created by professional graphic designers, good ones at that. They show huge initiative by reaching out to customers and potential customers via social media. They always offer additional
freebies and carry a secret menu, which you will only find out about if you pay attention to their facebook and twitter profile. There is no especially comfortable seating that emphasizes the fast food part of the business. Customers order, eat and leave within 10-‐15 minutes. There is no music, but the restaurant does have a nice atmosphere with light Indian decoration and a nice, comfortable temperature. The noise level is dependent on customers and most of them will eat rather than chat loudly. The prices are a bit above average for a fast food restaurant, but somehow it feels that the food is fresher and healthier. If that is true, I can’t say for sure. As far as customers go, you’ll mostly see work groups coming in, as well as student groups. I see few people by themselves. Since this place is fairly new, I did observe a lot of people nervously trying to grasp the 4-‐step-‐process as they wait in line. Location Number 3: Public Transportation – Subway Unattractive, no visible employees (you know the train conductor has to be there, but you only encounter personnel via announcements, usually unpleasant ones). To buy tickets, you are only using machines. You are informed as to where to report criminal activities. There is no interaction with personnel otherwise, however. There is always highly annoying music playing at the stations, but nothing on the actual trains. The type of music varies, but is usually equivalent to “elevator music”. During the months of November and December, we get to listen to Christmas music. Sometimes they (the never visible staff) forget to switch out the tracks and we get to enjoy Christmas music until February. Each cart is equipped with a few small television sets that play locally produced store ads that are most often of poor quality. Customers only stay as long as they have to. The majority of customers are commuting to and from work or school. The noise level varies with one constant: music blasted on personal devices that everyone has to listen to. Occasionally, you encounter security, but those only seem to be around when school gets out and the youngsters get on the train. Because of the necessity of the subway, it never appears as if customers are actual customers. Rather the dependency makes it seem like everyone should be thankful for the service. That is why this particular example is not quite like the store/restaurant experiences. I usually read on the train, which helps me to tune out my surrounding. This week, however, I paid attention and was actually surprised to find more people with attitudes similar to mine. People read, look out the windows or play games on their phones. In other words, everyone tried to tune out the people around them. The number of those being obnoxiously loud is actually very small. Location Number 4: Groomer As a dog owner I care a lot about where my dog gets her grooming. My younger dog, a Great Pyrenees mix has special grooming needs which I have a hard time accommodating her with. So a great groomer had to be found. The place I take her to is lovely. The dogs get one-‐on-‐one attention without ever being rushed. When you enter it’s a very pet-‐friendly environment filled with water bowls, treats and bones. It smells like wet dog and while less pleasant for humans, dogs seem to appreciate it.
The staff is always attentive and very sweet. They do not wear uniform, but once they get to work they do put on aprons. These do not contain store logos though. The atmosphere is much like a neighbor’s house, very comfortable, but not quite like your own place. Everything in the decor, signage and general approach is old-‐fashioned but not outdated and it creates a nurturing, re-‐assuring environment. Online reviews are entirely positive. The cash register is located in a different room, which helps separate the notion of dropping your dog off at a comfortable place where she will be happy and it being a business. Location Number 5: Fancy Restaurant This is almost opposite to the fast food place described in Location Number 2. You have to make reservations, the staff is well dressed and you are expected to follow the dress code. The signage is not visible until you approach the restaurant. It’s a well thought out design that matches the interior. Everything is about preparation before you even enter the restaurant. The host/hostess desk is located in the very front of the restaurant and there is always someone there greeting you in a very professional manner. The décor is well thought out and obviously expensive. Light music is playing in the background and waiters are fast, somewhat casual and highly knowledgeable regarding the food served. There is always ample space between each table giving customers at least a bit of privacy. Everything is given value, even filtered water. So you pay for it. There are no free side items, but plenty of recommendations for add-‐ons. None of it seems forced though. It truly seems to be about the experience. The food is astonishingly good and has a great reputation in town. Everything, from music to décor and temperature is top-‐notch and well thought through. The experience is mostly certainly what you pay for. Location Number 6: Murdah Kroger in Atlanta This is a local deity, it would seem. Everyone knows the Murdah Kroger in Atlanta. And honestly, I don’t even know how it came to its loving nickname, even though I’d be able to take a few guesses. It is not a great store and the experience there is never overwhelming though it has improved in recent years. It’s much like every Kroger: Soft music and commercials playing, unimpressive décor, cashiers in uniforms standing at the check-‐out always asking the same stuff. Their deals seem to draw in a lot of customers, especially if you have the Kroger Plus card. The customers are very mixed, rich and poor, well-‐dressed and homeless types, everything is represented. The signage is big and easily understood, visible from the street. When it comes to marketing, everything is in line and obviously for profit. Online reviews do not matter, it’s a chain store. It’s not overwhelmingly awesome, but it’s reliable and everything in their layout emphasizes that. Aisles are categorical, cheap items are at the bottom, pricier items at eye-‐level. Every item is presented in a large number of varieties, thus providing more choices than necessary. In addition the spaces are organized well, the aisles are wide enough to handle crowds. Check-‐outs are staff or computer operated. Everything can be quick, but doesn’t have to be.