Nice try, Carrefour

Carrefour keeps trying new things to deal with the shopping hoard that flows through its boundaries every day here in Shanghai. I mentioned a “basket-only line” idea a while back. I’m not sure when it disappeared, but it seems that idea is long gone. Lately I noticed another interesting idea:


The text reads:

> 如您前面有4人排队 If there are 4 customers waiting before you

> 请按键 Please press the button

> 减少您的等待时间是 Reduce your waiting time by every second in cashier line

> 我们的承诺 is our commitment

Decent idea, in theory, but the reason that button is so funny-looking is because the button is actually missing (presumably destroyed by all the constant frantic mashing it received).

Nice try, Carrefour.

Related: Shanghai Carrefour Showcase (2006)


John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.


  1. How does pressing the button reduce your waiting time?

  2. Maybe it flashes a “快点” red light, or gives the cashier a slight electric shock? Either way, I’m sure the staff weren’t huge fans. 😛

  3. Haha.. great! 🙂

    Either the button was smashed to death, or the staff removed it themselves because it was annoying. I found the Carrefour and other supermarkets in China to be a rich cultural experience for me on my visits to China. You really get a good understanding of the culture by what they purchase. Sure, there’s a lot of the same old stuff you would find in any supermarket int he world but there were other things and other “quantities” of things that stood out to me..

    For example, there is the “candy” section of the store (In this case I am referring to the Carrefour over on Wunning Lu, up the road from the Caoyang Lu Subway station); in this section there are the usual rows of confectionary and then there is this 2-row section with a central attraction area all filled with… JELLY!.. jelly, jelly, jelly! So many different types, flavours, shapes and sizes of jelly! 🙂 It says a lot to me when half of the confectionary section is devoted solely to jelly.

    Another thing you find in Chinese supermarkets is the “jerkey” aisles.. whole aisles with every type of “jerkey” you can think of! 🙂 From the standard beef jerkey, pork jerkey and turkey jerkey all the way to the weird and wonderful stuff like squid jerkey and duck neck jerkey etc.. if it can be dried and cured, it is there! 🙂

    Oh.. and what about the yogurt section in the dairy aisle?? 🙂 hehe.. for a country that isn’t too partial to milk, they choose to eat (or more accurately, drink) a lot of yogurt! 🙂

    Hehe.. I love China 🙂

  4. At my local supermarket, Lotus near Lingshan Lu, there are no buttons, but several staff members who direct customers to the shortest checkout queues. A really nice touch!

  5. In our Haikou Carrefours, they have the buttons, and you can press them. It seems to sound a tone somewhere and my guess was that they would try to open another checkout line? Not sure about that.

    Anyway, what I found amusing was that the signs were located right up at the checkout counter, where you definitely could not see or reach them if there are four customers (with carts and baskets and things) ahead of you.

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