To boost personalised service in-store, Countdown is creating 600 new customer-facing roles across New Zealand, providing product advice and helping shoppers with food choices, possible wine matches and seasonal options. During peak shopping times, between 4 and 7 pm, supermarkets will employ more staff at the checkouts and on the floor. The company will also invest in produce, deli and seafood departments, giving extended hours to a further 200 team members.

According to Brett Ashley, general manager operations, Countdown, the supermarket is becoming an extended pantry. Despite the rise of online sales and technology, ‘good old-fashioned human interaction’ remains a key factor in the buying process, and something retailers shouldn’t dismiss.
“We’re shopping differently than we used to, with most people shopping with us two to three times a week,” he said. “Now we’re improving the in-store experience by increasing our team numbers. It’s about ensuring we tailor the shopping experience to make things easy for the 2.7 million Kiwis who shop with us every week.”

Countdown has recently signalled the start of this new ‘chapter’ by employing full-time food and wine experts at its premium Ponsonby store. Now the chain is looking to roll out the same model in other locations.