It was a cold, rainy winter day. I was 16 years old, and I was just hired at the local Jewel Grocery Store in a leafy suburb of Sydney to be a checkout clerk, shelf packer and trolley pusher for the incredible hourly wage of $6. Needless to say, I was very proud!
This story first appeared in the March 11, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The best part of my job was people watching (and observing). It’s amazing how much you can learn about people by seeing what they buy and how they treat you as the person serving them. I remember competing with my fellow clerks to see who could scan products faster!
The worst part of my job was filling the Milk Fridge, as this involved stepping into an incredibly chilly room, emptying the milk shelf, cleaning and restocking it (think spilled, spoiled milk), all while shivering.
Stocking shelves was actually my most valuable takeaway. It taught me three lessons. Firstly, make every process as easy as possible for those working in the stores. From inner cartons to clear, concise labels, we try to think of the clerks’ efficiency as we design. Secondly, make your product interesting. A store packer will take more pride when they pack the shelves if they actually like your brand. Thirdly, think about how the customer shops. I learned how the customer shops the aisle, what they pick up, what triggers their attention and, ultimately, what they buy.
It’s incredible how those early lessons have stuck with me and how I apply them to my role today. I’ll definitely encourage my children to experience these life lessons in the least likely of places.