The Impact of Self Service on the Performance of Supermarkets

The Impact of Self Service on the Performance of Supermarkets

A supermarket according to Kotler (2000: 536) is relatively large, low cost, low-margin high volume, self service operation designed to serve total needs for food, laundry and house hold products.

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Ifezue (1990: 93) also noted that supermarket is a large scale departmentalized retailing institution which offers a relatively wide variety and complete stock of merchandize (which includes fresh meats produce, diary products and groceries) supplement by a variety of convenience non food merchandise, featuring price appeal and some parking space. He explained that supermarkets earn an operating profit of about 1% their sales and 10% on their net worth. He pointed out that despite strong competition from new and innovative competitor like superstores and discount stores supermarkets remain frequently shopped type of retail business.

It I important to note that the above descriptions given to supermarkets are often found in developed world and urban centers. However, what is branded a supermarket from the perspective of the developing world rural context may be very far from this. It may be better llied a mini shop.

Moreover, Nwokoye (1998: 136) also believed that supermarket is a retail outlet that sells food items. It is like the food section in a retail store. Based on these definition, it could be right believed that the important of a supermarket cannot be over emphasized. It is generally believed by many authors and people that supermarkets sales more item at relatively low prices. And perform marketing function of providing time, place and possess in utilities to consumers at a reasonable price.

There are other views expressed by other authors, Stapleton (1999; 101) for instance, gave divergent view in his definition instead of emphasizing on either merchandizing variety of minimum sales turn over, he defined supermarket on the area of store premises. He defined this self service store more than 2000 square feed with a minimum of 2 to 3 check out points that specialize in the reported selling of goods that are advertised national and for which thee is a high regular demand.

Ifeze observed that there is no universally accepted definition of a supermarket. He said that some people refer to supermarket as a type of retail institution usually found in the grocery field in which most of stores are in the food field but through some carry drugs and woman appeal.



According to Kotler and Armstrong (2001: 478) They noted that supermarkets are large scale stores that carries a wide variety of food, laundry and household products.

This means that supermarkets are usually operate on large scale buying from manufacturers or wholesaler who enjoy both cash and trade discount attached to bulk buying.

Supermarket goods are neatly displayed on the counters for easy accessibility by the customers, windom displays are also done cash register and basket are provided while attendants are always at customers service. There is no room for haggling. The shop attendant helps the customer with the information they might need at the end of shopping. The goods in the basket are machined by the cashier and payment is made. To guard against pilfering the customers are made to show their receipt to the security men at the next door.

The significant feature of a supermarket outlet as outlined by Aual and Eliezerrow (1999; 89) are as follows:

  1. Quantity        
  2. Service
  3. Price
  4. Promotion
  5. Trading stamp
  6. Information

Ifezue (1990: 93) enumerated the following importance of supermarkets.

1)                Bulk purchase: They can afford to buyer merchandise in large lots, which makes it possible for them to buy directly from manufacturers. Hence taking advantages of large scale buying.

2)                Self service: The fact of self service  implies that supermarket proprietors/retailer usually employ fewer service persons than retailer in other fields. Self service in the supermarket is the process in which customer walk into the store and choose the bread of goods they want.

3)                Variety Assortment: Merchandising is typically of supermarkets and it commonly carried five or ten times the number of individual items ground in the ordinary grocery stores.

4)                Higher average sales: Resulting from large numbers of merchandising items, mass display and quantity pricing.

5)                Lack of credit facilities: Suggest that losses due to bad debts can be avoided.

6)                With: They offer wide variety and complete stock of merchandise.

Kalo (1990: 33 – 36) did a little survey towards an improved supermarket merchandising Nigeria.

The study is probably the most recent study on the subject. The researcher made use of sample size of twenty five (25) supermarkets selet from various parts of Nigeria. the study among other things found out that the most important identified goal of a supermarket is to provide the buying public with the finest goods and services available and that the management of some supermarkets do not understand fully their merchandising strategies.

Most of the time, the strategies are not well participated. There is a merchandising trend of increasing percentage of non food items in the total inventory carried by supermarkets in the country. The supermarket do not give much consideration to the needs and wants of the buying public while formulating their merchandising strategies, complaints frequently launched to the supermarket according to the customers were no prices, quantity of commodities, poor customer service and arrogant sales clerks.

The findings may have been a different thing if a larger sample size was used.


Kotler (1989:46) said “supermarket most be carefully located near the greatest number of potential customers because of the importance of shopper convenience in store patronage.

Brand (1992: 24) discussed in details the characteristics of layout of a supermarket from the customers point of view. To Brand what should influence the arrangement of the supermarket interior are the needs and expectations of the customer. Generally customers want an attractive place to shop in they require convenience of crowing.

Planning the location of a modern supermarket is influenced by several factors. Adequate to Gillepie (1997: 47) stressed the importance of good location for a retail outlet like a supermarket. The location of a supermarket depends on its customers. What world be a primary spot for a self – service supervisor might be a poor one for a gift shop. He said that not minding size and type of customers, the following are the basic requirement in planning the location of a supermarket.

–                     The location must be easy to reach by a sufficient number of customers who will buy the merchandise that is for sale.

–                     The location must be economic in terms of cost, compared with sales volume.

–                     The location must be in a suitable shopping convincement.

The location must be easy to reach by sufficient number of customers who will like to buy the merchandise. It must be visible and should not be in a remote area where the customers would be put in great effort in order o buy goods that the supermarket carries.

Therefore, the location of the store would be reach with all amount of case. This mean that the supermarket must be easily accessible.

He further recommended that the supermarket management should choose a good trading area. It must be large as to have enough potential customer to make a store profitable to the owner and satisfactory to the customers.



Adiriak (1992: 62) defined promotion as one of the component of the marketing mix used by an organization to inform, educate and persuade the market regarding the company’s offering.             

Generally promotion is a marketing tool which seeks to inform and influence the target market to accept the company’s product this creating a relationship between the company and the market.

Fulmer (1999: 10) identified the importance of promotion as follows:

–                     To provide information: The First task of any promotion programme then is to provide information or communication and idea.

–                     To create demand: Creating demand for the product is the objective of the information provided.

–                     Development of repeat purchase buying through price off package or through coupons or special offer.

As written by Ebue (1995: 182) sales promotion is that something extra that can arouse interest create a buying desire, spark an immediate reaction from customers middlemen or company’s sales force. He stated that sales promotion can be directed to consumers with such tools as (couponing, premiums, sample refunds price off, contest, demonstrations). Trade or dealer promotion with tools is/free goods, merchandise allowance, corporative adverts dealers contests/such other tools as (sales contest, special bonus, sales meeting are used for sales force promotions).

The objective of sales promotion was identified by Ebue (1987: 8) journal of market as:

–                     Shop and buy: This is to build that trail among non used and to create in the consumers the desire to purchase.

–                     Buy bigger: Persuading customers to use the product and purchase of large quantity.

–                     Repeat purchase: Persuading customers to return again.

In regarding to the past, Nichel (1998: 21) said advertising, personal selling, public relations, publicity and sales promotion were only weres is the elements in the promotional strategies but today. It has becomes more aware of the fact that everything in individual or organisation does or say has promotional impact.

Adirika, Ebue and Nnolim (1996: 88) stated that advertising is any paid from of non personal presentation medium. These mass media-radio, television, newspapers, magazine, outdoor displays (such as posters and signs) direct mail have the power to reach large number of target audience with a message.

Advertising can be use by supermarket institution, with the aim of creating image and also increasing sales by informing the general public about the existence of the establishment (supermarket outlet). Advertisement placed by supermarkets in the newspapers and magazines are example of this.

Adiriak, Ebue and Nnolim (1996: 164 – 165) postulate that personal selling is usually considered as the last bus – stop in the total promotional journey. Personal selling promotion is flexible and be tailored to the individual needs and behaviour of each customer with personal selling, customers reaction to a particular sales massage can be discovered and necessary adjustments made right to the spots. Moreover, personal selling is the intelligence machinery of a company (a company has an opportunity to receive feed back).

Corey (1994: 25) views publicity as any news worthy information that is disseminated by the medias without charge to the sponsor. Usually publicity is solicited by the store. The appeal of publicity is based on distinct qualities. High creditability, off guards, dramatization.

In the word of Nnolim (1994: 32) promotion is an important function through which markets communicate to information consumers and persuade the intended target market an all aspects of what the firm has to offer in the area of need and wants satisfying product and services. The objective eventually is to get consumer to be favour of those products and services.


The term strategy is “militaristic”. It denotes a situation of war. In the commercial world the supermarkets and such other groups are in a war situation. As they try to compete each out of operation striving to create a monopolistic market this makes the competition militaristic.

Kotler (1990: 272) defined marketing strategy as a consistent, appropriate and feasible set of principles through which a company hopes to achieve its long run customer and profit objective in a competitive environment.

The marketing strategies of a supermarket will take several factors into account. It has to take cognizance of her competitive size and position within the market. The resources objective and policies of the supermarket will be taken into account. Also to be considered is the buying behaviour of the target market. It should also consider seriously the marketing strategy of other supermarket around the same area and the general character of the economy.

Many managers of supermarkets are without any marketing experience. As such application of marketing strategies are virtually non existence where they tired to apply it, it is wrongly applied. They do not employ the services of trained markets to plan and execute the marketing strategies for them, since they do not know the strategy to apply and where they apply wrongly what they think they know, they detest the application of marketing strategy. The result is that they surrender the growth of their business to fate.

In Nigeria, the alcoholic, food and beverage market is a good example where a firm cannot have a well articulated strategic defensive imitative to curb the incessant activities of ricers and challengers.                         

According to Okorie (1998: 27) in a study carried out in Nsukka Local government area he concluded that the problem of supermarket operation lies on the poor adoption of marketing strategies, lack of research and non-monitoring of changes in the environment.

When the above conclusion is taking into consideration by supermarket managers it will help improve supermarkets operations. They should study their environment by using the swop analysis so as not to be brought down by their competitors.

Good location is also one of the major strategies for improve supermarket operations. If the supermarkets are well located, they will make great sale due to increase in patronage. The supermarket should be accessible for good out reach.

Kotle (1995: 231), noted that in any business however, there is nothing more important than to price a company set for its goods. A supermarket should set an attractive price for its item in order to attract more customers. This price setting is also another strategy use in attracting customers.


Markins (1998: 210) pointed out that the primary responsibility of supermarket management is to develop and implement sound merchandising strategies. The supermarket management must develop comprehensive plan, which would enable the store to complete and operate effectively within its competitive environment.

He said that the success or failure of a supermarket is to a large extent determine buy product – merchandised food lines.

He stressed the combination of devices available to supermarket which will enable the firm to seek its desired objectives.

He said that they could generally be found within give broad categories.

  1. Promotion policies and tactics
  2. Price policies or appeals
  3. Product policies
  4. Buying policies
  5. Location.

He pointed out some stores will attempt to maximize their competitive advantages through the five categories.


This was the view of Duncan and Philip in their book retailing principles and method (1999: 108).

General speaking, stores arranged on self service plan have encouraged circulation of customers and minimize congestion in customer traffic.

Commenting further on this, they argued that self service stores seek to main or terlines, and easiness. There is nothing like customer traffic in supermarket because they are not waiting for the sales clerk to come and bring goods for them.

It is on serve yourself basis and supermarket are arranged in a way that it is easy for every customer to walk around it without obstructions.

They remarked that:

Many customers prefer self service because it enable them to examine merchandise in a leisurely and minute manner and to make selection upon their basis of their own judgment.

Duncan and Philip (1998: 109) argues that self service helps customers to examine the goods very well and choose  that right product. it is good for customers to select the goods they want because it gives then the opportunity to make the right judgment. If the sales clerk had given it to them. they may not be able to look at it very well on getting to the house to use it, they recognize that it is not good, or inferior and this may lead to what we call cognitive dissonance. According to Women Wear Daily January 1, 1999.

When customers serve themselves there is a reduction in customer’s service. Few people are required to assist customers in serving themselves, selling expenses are therefore reduced and personal problems are minimized. Women wear daily showed that self – service helps in the profitability of supermarkets because it reduces selling expenses in that few sales people are require customer complaints about salespeople not being polite is reduced because they serve themselves.

David Wiggly (1990: 211) outlined some of the advantages of self services as follows:

  1. Self service arrangement make possible larger and better displays merchandise which in turn contributes to greater sales.
  2. Arrangement of a store on a self service plan brings recognition on the part of customer that management is alert and we bring development in merchandising
  3. Provision of more detailed receipt and generated valuable data.


          Okere (1995: 317) noted that customers have unique influence on the achievement of the organizational objectives. A customer is a sales clerk of a supermarket. A sale performance of Cyril super clearly depends on effective and honest performance of all customers, and how the sales clerk and manager treat the customer.

Some analysts have described the supermarket as a departmentalized retail store that tell more in a variety of merchandise and in which the self service plays the major role. Supermarket have made satisfactory profit due to self service and quantity goods carried. Self service helps to reduce labour cost which we add to the profit.

Supermarkets are also upgrading their facilities and services to attract more customers, more expensive location, better architecture, delivery and even child care centers.

Okeke (1995: 319) also maintained that supermarkets managers are increasing their promotional strategy in order to sale more brands of goods such magazine, books, etc. which aim at maximizing profit.


          Kotler and Armstrong (2001: 473) in their book “principles of marketing” maintained that self service retailers serve customer who are willing to perform their own “locate – compare-select” process to save money. Self service is the basis of all discount operations and is typically used by sellers of convenience goods (such as supermarket) and national branded fast moving shopping goods (such as best buy or service merchandise).

Despite the benefit derived from self service operation, there has been some problems of self-service operations identified by Duncan and Philip (1999: 110). In their views, some stores have such a large volume of business that during the much periods, it might be inconveniences for shop attendant to check customers that serve themselves, in this process, Pilferage takes place, merchandise is damaged, customers fatigues results and customer’s time is invoiced.

Moreover, where a supermarket is not properly arrangement it might be not be possible for all the shoppers to cart purchase to check-out points.

Pelly Bangart (1998: 151) in his own consideration outlined the following reasons that made check out to fail.

  1. It was inadequate to handle efficiently the large number of transaction on peaks bays.
  2.       The high fashion level of much merchandise.
  3.     The large share of “big ticket” items.

Self service will depend mainly on the continued willingness of customers to serve themselves in return for savings they realize on their purchase improvement in fixture, display and package designs. The conviction of retail store management that these methods afford excellent opportunities to increase sales reduce expense, and alleviate some of their problem in the existing profit success.


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The Impact of Self Service on the Performance of Supermarkets

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