As we drove into the main road of our village this morning, the kids immediately noticed something was different: “Mom, why are all these balloons 

hanging around?” My first thought was of someone celebrating their 50 years, something the Dutch like to celebrate with big Sarah and Abraham balloons outside their house, but I disregarded it as I never saw someone going as far as decorating the entire main road! That thoguht was followed immediately by “maybe the new Deen Supermarket is opening today?” wondering if that could be a reason to fill the entire main road with balloons, as I noticed they continued all the way to the train station.

We live in Koog aan de Zaan a small village just outside Amsterdam separated by a train rail in West Koog and Oude (Old) Koog. The west side is nearly entirely a residential area with local schools, and all the shops gathered in a small shopping center named Westerkoog Molenwerf, which has two (!) supermarkets, next to few specialised shops. Up until a month ago, the two supermarkets were DekaMarkt and SuperCoop. DekaMarkt used to be the one always crowded, with long annoying queues at the cashier, not friendly staff and plenty of their meat products containing E621 (MSG or artificial flavouring) to which I’m highly intolerant. SuperCoop was much quieter with hardly any queue at the check-out, much friendlier staff, and great meat products (without E621). Despite the higher prices, which was likely the reason for shorter lines, SuperCoop was my choice, and I had made a routine of shopping there every Wednesday with the kids. I was pretty sad when last month I heard that it was going to be replaced by a Deen sometime in April – and when it did close in January, my only consolation was that on the very same day DekaMarkt installed self-scanning devices – a much longer due service. When I had to go shopping at DekaMarkt at least I could use the self-scanner.  I was surprised by the service received from the person dedicated to assisting clients as they got used to the new scanners, which was needed seeing that this scanner didn’t work very intuitive or at least was entirely different to the self-scanners I always use when going to the AH supermarkets).

Thanks to the self-scanning service I went shopping to DekaMarkt quite a few times in the past month, just paying attention to not buy any of their meat with additives.

Then today the surprise of Deen opening, not previously announced with fliers in the mailbox or around the neighborhood, but surely unmissable with all these balloons along the road, which gave a very cheerful spirit to the entire area.

As I picked up the kids from school, we walked by the shopping center to check out the new opening and found it swarming with people, lots of balloons and stands ready for a mini party with DJ, spinning wheel and sugar spin which would only start after 1 pm! So guess what? After we went home for lunch, the kids wanted to have an extra stop by Deen when we went out again to go swimming.

Never before, at least not that I can remember, have I witnessed the opening of a new supermarket, so not sure if what followed is normal, but I very much liked how they made this opening noticeable in the whole neighbourhood. I found very pleasant to see how the kids enjoyed it and had some extra fun with it, meeting a few other kids and parents there, and probably talking about it at school the day after. Little things that also contribute to our happiness and the happiness of our local community.

As soon as my husband got home, I had a walk to the Deen supermarket again, this time to go inside at my own pace and do some shopping, reassured from having seen earlier on that they also had a self-scanning area.

Entrance is precisely opposite what it used to be with SuperCoop and the arrangement of various areas of course very different. It was handy that they had plenty of stuff ready to help and that they made a map explaining where everything is (even though there is a small mistake in it. Can you spot it?)

Before starting my round, I asked where could I pick a self-scanner and learned t
hat they had a self-scanning check-out instead – something that so far in the Netherlands I had seen only in the small “AH to go” at the station.

All in all, I was very impressed with the selection of items available, which appears more substantial than SuperCoop used to have on the same space, including plenty of biological products.  I was very sorry to notice that so much of the fresh “own butcher meat” had E621 together with plenty of other E numbers (something which unfortunately also “biological” products often seem to include) and that so many products (even tortellini!) had added sugars! It looks like the day regular shops will sell real healthy food is still far.

Getting everything into the basket and then scan it all at once at the end was a much more seamless and fraction free experience than the item by item scanning with the hand-scanner option offered by DekaMarket and AH.

What struck me most is how crowded the shop was the three different timings I went by today, while at the very same time DekaMarkt was nearly empty and had only one check-out open (instead of usual 2 or 3 with long queues) and only one customer paying at the time I walked by. Curious to see how will it evolve and whether the two supermarkets will keep improving the customer experience they provide to win the local market. For now, I just enjoyed the buzz of today in our neighbourhood and the happy faces I saw walking around.


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When companies focus on improving Customer Experience, they achieve higher revenue, loyalty, word of mouth, and even lower costs, ultimately driving profits & business growth. By making the interactions between companies and people better we make both sides happier. This is possible through Happiness Driven Growth, a business model that companies can and should pursue, and a concept that I have been championing for quite some time now. I invite you to watch my TEDx talk given at TedxTorvergataU 2016 where I elaborate on why companies should have a growth model driven by happiness, instead of one driven by loyalty and profit.


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