Groceries can be considered as an interpersonal environment

Groceries nationwide use the same layout to create a generalflow to their stores that keep the customers efficiently moving through theaisles and spending money.

Many people see grocery shopping as a burden becausethey buy items that are not needed, it is uncomfortably cold, time consuming, orboring. Trader Joe’s can be considered as an interpersonal environmentwhere the employees and customers both perform in the servicescape. Asexplained by Bitner (1992) positive internal responses in the servicescape leadto approach behavior for both employees and customers. For employees, it leadsto being more committed to the company, staying longer with the company,affiliation, etc. For customers, it leads to staying longer and spending more moneyat the store, being loyal to the company, etc.

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It is important to create apositive, interesting, and trendy store environment not only to keep thecustomers interested but also to create a good environment to work in for theemployees. After all, the employees spend about 8 hours a day at work and it isessential to have the employees happy. If the employees are delighted to be atwork it can make the customers also happy but it means that the employees alsohave emotional labor. Emotional labor is important in services becausefront-line employees engage in emotional work as part of their jobs, includinggreeting customers with a positive attitude.

If employees express positiveemotions when interacting with customers, the customers are likely to perceivethese emotions (Cho,Y.-N., Rutherford, B. N.

, & Park, J., 2013). As explained byRosenbaum and Massiah, servicescape represents a consumption settings built(i.e. manufactured, physical), social (i.e. human), socially symbolic, andnatural (environments) dimensions that affect both consumers and employees inservice organizations (2011).

In this essay, I will demonstrate how all ofthese aspects are used at Trader Joe’s.  Trader Joe’s is a privately-ownedgrocery store in the United States with more than 450 locations. Trader Joe’sis known for carrying organic, fresh, and healthy products with budget-friendlyprices.

The first store opened in 1967 located Pasadena, California. Trader Joe’s has a big advantage fromtheir competitions because they package innovative, hard-to-find, great-tastingfoods under the “Trader Joe’s” name. This way they keep the prices asaffordable as possible for the customers. The way they are able to achieve thisis by buying directly from the suppliers whenever possible, they bargain hardto get the best price, and then pass the savings on to the customers (,2017). Interaction withcustomers and employees is a big part of the Trader Joe’s company culture. Peoplecome to Trader Joe’s versus other grocery stores because of the knowledge thatthe employees have about the products they sell.

It is also easy to find theemployees and to communicate with them because of how open everyone is. For example;the employees can tell the customer why not all Alaskan salmon comes fromAlaska or the difference between a Shiraz and a Syrah wine. The advantage ofthe Trader Joe’s employees is the product knowledge that they all have from thetrainings the company provides. Trader Joe’s is known for their themed stores becausethey want their customers to feel like they are vacationing on an island.

Theywant to create this enjoyable and positive atmosphere that is completelydifferent than any other grocery store. Differentiating themselves leads to customerswanting to try new foods, stay in the store longer, and buy more than what ison their grocery store list because it is attention-grabbing. Also, they use the dramaturgical approach to create adifferentiated retail environment that would be expected to tap into hedonicshopping motivations. It is more of experiential shopping occasion wherepositive emotions are triggered and shoppers are more likely to be immersed inthe experience (Foster and McLelland, 2015). As an active shopper at TraderJoe’s, I am extremely aware that I come there for my utilitarian shopping needssuch as produce to keep me alive; eggs, chicken, fruits, and vegetables.

But inthe end, it is more of a hedonic shopping because I am enjoying the process andI am buying products that I did not think that I need. But coming to Trader Joe’sit is an experience because there are so many things to try on the sample tableor you see products that are new. Customers and employees are always talkingabout their recommendations and then you end up purchasing something that you didnot know that you need or want.  Although they are many reasons why customers choose to shop atTrader Joe’s versus a competitors store. One of the restorative stimuli’sof natural dimension which is used at Trader Joe’s is being away. It givespeople a break from day-after-day concerns by helping them feel, albeittemporarily, as if they are escaping to a different place such as an island (Rosenbaumand Massiah, 2011). Grocery shopping plays a big part in our lives becausewithout food we would not be alive. But many people despise it because it istime consuming because of the decisions you have to make within differentbrands, crowds, not being able to find the product that you need, and buyingproducts that you do not need.

At Trader Joe’s you do not have to think aboutother brands because they only have one brand; Trader Joe’s products. They cutdown your time in deciding what brand to buy so you can spend time on enjoyingthe experience. They give you samples of new products or featured products soyou know what you are buying.

Customers also do not have to spend time onfinding employees to answer their questions; you will always find one in an armreach. Everyone is excited to be at Trader Joe’s whether they are shoppers oremployees.  Unlike most grocery stores that have the bakery, produce andflower departments at the front of the store. Trader Joe’s places thesedepartments differently. These departments are known to make customers hungry throughsight, smell and taste, which persuades them to spend money on things that werenot necessarily on their list. However, Trader Joe’s store layout is differentbecause their bakery section is in the back of the store.

Produce is placedstarting from the front of the store to the back of the store. Flowerdepartment starts from outside of the store and takes a little bit of space inthe front corner of the store. Trader Joe’s follows the traditionalgrocery store layout but with few differences. For example, instead of seven tonine isles, most of Trader Joe’s stores have three to four isles maximum.Instead, they incorporate small stands all over the grocery store with standssuch as banana stand, fresh baked goods, bread, etc. This helps to reduce thetraffic of the store because multiple customers can reach the items off thestand because of the circular shape of the stand. The shelves usually createtraffic in the store because only one or two customers can get to the items andothers must wait behind them. Another way Trader Joe’s differs from atraditional grocery store is because of the height of their stands and isles.

Most of the items are easily reached because they are placed on the eyelevel orbelow. According to Bitner (1992), spatial layout and functionality of theenvironment are highly salient to customer in self-service environments wherethey must perform on their own and cannot rely on employees to assist them. Self-serviceenvironment in grocery stores comes when you are picking out your products. Ifthe products are placed extremely high, the customer would have to wait for anemployee to get them that item. This creates traffic in the store, frustrationto the customer and employee, and is extremely inefficient. Therefore, it ishelpful that Trader Joe’s considered the height of their isles and stands whilecreating the layout of their stores.

 Store layout is an extremelyimportant aspect of a grocery store because it can help the traffic flow of thestore. As noted by Rosenbaum and Massiah, “high densities of customers (i.e.crowding) negatively affect approach decisions (Harrell et al.

, 1980) becauseof the loss of perceived control (Tombs and McColl-Kennedy, 2003)” (2011). Thelayout of the store not only benefits the employees but the customers becausegrocery store being too packed can be seen as a negative aspect of theconsumption experience. Considering some people have limited time in their dayto do their grocery shopping, it could be inconvenient for them to shop in acrowded grocery store.

Also, it can cause problems such as empty shelvesbecause everyone is buying products and the employees can not get to theshelves to replace the items because it is too crowded in the store. Trader Joe’sdoes a well job of regulating the traffic of the store, however, I think the differentgrocery store layout can be tricky for new customers. Considering if thiscustomer doesn’t have enough free time and the items aren’t placed in the usualplaces it could be frustrating. Also, it could negatively affect theirexperience and this customer wouldn’t want to return to the store. The physical dimension of TraderJoe’s is a big part of creating the island atmosphere because it changescustomers attitude towards grocery shopping.

First, the ambient conditions suchas temperature is pleasant unlike other grocery stores it is not freezing but itis not too warm because of all the fresh produce/meats/dairy. Which benefitsnot only the customers but also the employees, considering that they are at thestore for the whole day. Per Bitner, environmental design and relatedphysiological responses affect whether a person can perform his or her jobfunction (e.g.

, Riley and Cochran 1984). Moreover, the smell is wonderful atTrader Joe’s stores because of the quality of their products, when you walk into the store they have seasonal fruits and flowers placed in the beginning ofthe store. Also, they always have delicious samples in the back corner,therefore, when you get to this part of the store it smells incredible. Basedon a season, the smells also change because of the products they are samplingfor example in autumn it is usually something like gingerbread cookies orspiced chai drinks.

Trader Joe’s is extremely cautious with strong smellingfoods such as fish or seafood because it might be uncomfortable for somecustomers. All of their furniture is made out light color wood to resemble the islandmarkets or the color of the boats on the island. Trader Joe’s uses blendedapproach for their stores because although the designscape is similar throughoutall stores; the music differs. Each store manager is in charge of the musiceach day. Most traditional grocery stores play music that is selected in thecorporate and is played repeatedly on the daily basis which can be frustrating.”In studies of restaurants and supermarkets, it has been illustrated that musictempo can affect pace of shopping, length of stay, and amount of money spent (Milliman1982, 1986)” (Bitner, 1992).

This gives the freedom to the managers to pick outpopular and new music based on their location. The customers feel comfortableand enjoy the tunes while shopping because they are familiar to it. Also, ithelps the employees to enjoy their long hours at work because they arelistening to music that they like and not a repeat of the same songs.  As noted by Rosenbaum, generic signs, such as those displayingdepartments, directions, rest rooms, caution, and rules of behavior, facilitatea customers movement through a servicescape. Trader Joe’s creates signs thatare hung up high to see where significant items such as dairy or meats are placed.

This way the customer does not have to walk around the store to find the item.Also, the signs such as “10 Items or Less Express” help the customers with lessitems use them which helps with the flow of the traffic in the grocery store.Since most Trader Joe’s stores are always extremely busy, signs play a big partof keeping their customers happy and help to better facilitate around thestore.

Most of Trader Joe’s decorations are their signs which are hand-drawn bytheir local employees. The blended approach is used with the signs at TraderJoe’s. According to Turley and Chebat, this approach tries to combine theadvantages of both the prototype and distribute the designs while minimizingtheir disadvantages. At Trader Joe’s the Hawaiian/island theme is shown allover their store with flowers and bright colors. However, they do differ theirsigns depending on the store location. For example; in the San Francisco storenext to the Golden Gate Bridge they have a sign that says “Welcome to the GoldenGate Bridge Trader Joe’s!”, and in Manhattan they have a display that says,”Welcome to Manhattan Trader Joe’s”. Another way they differ is because of the varietyartists that draw the signs.

 TraderJoe’s employee explains how the blended approach is used, “If you wereassigned to write the order for wine, then all the decisions about your sectionwere made by you: how you wanted to re-organize the shelves, what you wantedfor a display, the creative signage you needed, or even if you felt like youneeded new shelves entirely because yours seem to empty out too quicklySaturday evenings, or have one too many Charles Shaw stains”(Gillett,2017). This clearly shows the way they use the blended approach in their storeswhich gives a certain structure they have to follow but freedom to make itpersonable.  Trader Joe’s social dimension hasalso a big effect on the way they do business. Social servicescape ascomprising customer and employee elements that are encapsulated in aconsumption setting, and Edvardsson et al. (2010) suggest that three socialelements – customer placement, customer involvement, and interaction withemployees – each represent a social dimension that influences a customersexperience in a service setting.

As mentioned before, it is important for TraderJoe’s employees try to build relationships with their customers, therefore,there is a great amount of customer involvement and interaction with employees. Employees play a big part of theatmosphere that is created in the store which shows that Trader Joe’s uses thedramaturgical approach. As stated before, they have to play a role of being theworkers of the island on a boat. They put a big amount of emotional labor intheir work.

But, it is what shapes and excites people to return to Trader Joe’sfor their grocery shopping. As mentioned by Rosenbaum and Massiah, employeesshould be considered part of environmental stimuli that influence a customer’sapproach/avoidance decision and social interaction in a servicescape (Baker etal., 1994).

This extremely important because unlike retail shopping where theemployees job is to sell you an item so they can get their commission but alsonot shop at the competitors store; grocery shopping is different. If you havenoticed, when shopping at traditional grocery store, there are not manyemployees out on the floor. Usually you have to search for them throughout thestore if you have a question or you can not find something. At Trader Joe’s, theemployees for some reason are always there, close by. It does not feel like aretail environment where the employee is breathing down your neck but it helpsthe experience. It is convenient because they are not just standing around butthey are working like making sure the fruit is all laid out nicely, stocking upon sold out items, etc. Not only can you ask the employee for an item that youneed (if you can not find it on your own) but many also, ask suggestions onfoods to buy. As explained by Rosenbaum andMassiah (2011), customers often enjoy patronizing farmers markets not only topurchase fresh produce but also to engage in spontaneous conversations at thesemarkets (McGrath et al.

, 1993). Although, Trader Joe’s is not a farmers marketbut this is the dramaturgical approach where they make you feel like you are onan island shopping for fruits versus in a traditional grocery store. It’simportant especially in American culture that the store has to offer more thanjust their products but also employees who are open to conversations. Manytimes, I find myself in a conversation with a Trader Joe’s employee because ofthe new products.

I like to ask them if they like it or have tried the product.At one time, the employee was honest and told me that this product was not hisfavorite but there is another new product that he absolutely enjoys. Sometimes,the customer likes to spend time at the sample table talking to the employeeabout recipes and get tips from them on cooking.  However, working in aplace such as Trader Joe’s can lead to emotional exhaustion because of how muchemotional labor the employees put in. As mentioned before, the environment thatthe employees create in the stores is extremely important because that’s partof the experience of shopping at Trader Joe’s.

The employees always should behappy and excited as most people feel on an island. Understanding how emotionalexhaustion affects emotional display is important because expression ofemotions can stimulate customers’perceptions of service quality, satisfaction, and loyalty (Tsai & Huang,2002), (Cho, Y.-N., Rutherford, B. N.

, & Park,J., 2013). Even though, most Trader Joe’s employees enjoy their jobs and arenaturally happy, it does affect people and can lead to emotional exhaustion.Life happens and sometimes there are events that can affect your mood and itsquite impossible to mask it. But Trader Joe’s acknowledges that and that is whythey circulate work tasks. Trader Joe’s employees states, “Oversight of openingand closing shifts are distributed evenly, and tasks and assignments arerotated throughout the week, which means no one is stuck taking in the frozentruck at 4 a.m.

every single morning, or closing out our computers every nightuntil midnight. Maybe that is why managers are able to stay so nice to us”(Gillett, 2017). By changing work tasks weekly I think it benefits theemployees because some of the tasks aren’t customer oriented therefore, that istheir time to relax from the emotional labor. In conclusion, there are many differentaspects that shape and create the retail environment at Trader Joe’s. These arejust a few and the ones that stood out to me as a frequent shopper at thisstore. The dramaturgical island theme that the store uses is a big benefit andthe main aspect how they different from other grocery stores.

In the end, thecustomers are loyal to Trader Joe’s because of the experience they get from thestore. Whether it is the employees who are always happy and want to help, thefree samples that you can try because you are interested in the new product or simplyare just hungry and need a little fuel while you shop, or the unique productsthat can not be found at any other grocery stores. There could be hundreds ofdifferent reasons why people love to shop at Trader Joe’s but for each personit is slightly different because of their own experience. After looking at the physical, social, symbolic,and natural stimuli of shopper and employee benefits and disadvantages atTrader Joe’s, I hope it demonstrates the way Trader Joe’s is different fromother grocery stores. A small discloser; there were essay limitations inthe research I could find because Trader Joe’s is a private company and they donot disclose a lot of information. All of my knowledge about the company camefrom Trader Joe’s website, personal experience as a frequent shopper, or TraderJoe’s employee interviews.


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