With Halloween quickly approaching, we thought it might be appropriate to highlight the “horror stories” that can come from having expired products in your stores. We will not focus on anyone that is still in business, but there are examples out there of news crews going into grocery stores and publicizing the expired products that they find. No one wants to be identified as a store that sells expired products, but what can that look like if it happens?
The Dominick’s Nightmare
In February 2011, Chicago-area blogger Jill Cataldo went into her local Dominick’s store with two other people, and they pulled hundreds of expired items from the shelves in two hours. When Jill wrote a story about her experience, it absolutely exploded. Local television stations picked up the story and there were a lot of people on her blog commenting about how they have always had a problem with finding expired products at Dominick’s. The concept that many people do not actually complain to the store when they find a problem, but simply talk about it on social media was being exercised in full force.
It eventually turned into a four part series with a lot of negative PR for Dominick’s. Although it is something people joke about at times, you do know that something was significant in your company’s history when it ends on your Wikipedia page. That was exactly what happened to Dominick’s, and you can still see that one their Wikipedia page today.
Handling Customer Complaints About Expired Products
Another interesting aspect of this story is that this blog series was not the first time Dominick’s had been called out for selling expired products online. You can read that blog post here.
Avoiding the Nightmares
Whether you choose rotation, spot-checking, or Date Check Pro, make sure it is getting done when it needs to. Expiration dates on products do not wait for anyone, and when employees miss expired products doing one of those three things, they do not magically go away. The products that expired last week will still be on the shelf, along with all of the items that you have to be worried about this week. No matter how good your plan or strategy is to manage expired products is, it is worthless if your employees do not execute it.
Customers will always expect that you are not selling expired items on the shelf. That is never going to change. While customers have always had this expectation, they now have the ability to blog about it, or post on Facebook about it, or a variety of other ways to quickly spread the word that they bought expired products from their local grocery store. Do not be afraid to use technology to combat that issue and track your expiration dates, and make those horror stories a thing of the past.