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The Devil is in the Detail in Retail

March 26, 2012 Leave a comment

Retail, we are reliably informed by those who know, is detail.

That is to say, attention to detail is essential, and if you can take care of the little things, the big things will largely take care of themselves.

At first, this sage advice sounds most helpful and reassuring. It is only when you consider that a large UK supermarket stocks around 40,000 items that you realise the size of the task of looking after the little things is gargantuan.

And so assistance is sought in technical solutions capable of processing huge amounts of data and an army of moderately paid staff charged with keeping things ticking over and customers satisfied.

Inevitably though, automated systems lack a human touch and staff can have a low boredom threshold. This dangerous combination can lead to things that may offend or amuse and will almost certainly end up on the internet.

For example, having popped into the newly opened local Tesco Express, Zeitgeist was surprised to be offered a satanically priced washing powder.

Presumably ideal for a hot wash

While the link between the special price and the Number of the Beast may not deter too many cash strapped Brits, if Tesco want their global expansion plans to run smoothly they might want to pay a little more attention to the detail of numerology and the cultural significance of certain numbers in territories are planning to target.

Similarly, a couple of photos taken in-store of awkwardly labeled food have been doing the rounds on the internet lately and suggest that this is not an isolated case.

Clearly, the item description section has a finite space which can present a challenge when a product has a long name or many ingredients. Abbreviation is the obvious solution but again, failure to take care of the little things can spell trouble.

The first example, again in Tesco, was for Welsh Lady Assorted Fudge. It even offered Clubcard points. Unfortunately the label presented to shoppers looked like this.

No sooner had the fudge gone viral that an equally unappetising lunch offering began doing the rounds.

Given how obvious the humour was in the abbreviations, there is little doubt that mischievous staff have been having a little fun. If this is the case and the labeling is not automated or validated there seems to be little that can be done to avoid recurrences, much to the pleasure of web users craving a childish laugh.

In the meantime, we’d suggest someone goes and checks the shiitake mushrooms and cockles in vinegar just in case.

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