Making it Harder for a Customer to Enter Your Business

This Saturday me and my girlfriend did something that millions of us do on weekends, we stocked up on food for the week by going to my grocery store.

A few years ago my local Maxi (big surface Canadian grocery food chain) installed these really ugly gates at the main entrance. To go in customers must clumsily push their way through these two odd metal gates, most with their carts as well. This is after walking through the two automatic doors that are standard in most big chain grocery stores.

The gate has been there for a few years now and in many of the big chain grocery stores in my neck of the woods (Montreal, Qc) like Metro or Provigo but I have yet to see them in Loblaws which owns Provigo.

Speaking for myself, the chore of going to the grocery store every week is probably the most boring and least interesting of obligations.  Obviously I should be going to the farmers market which is way more interesting but in this case I didn’t. On a side note, this chore is much less of a pain when I do it with my girlfriend but that’s not the point of this post.

Back to the metal gates, other than looking horrible it seems like all these businesses have figured out a way to make it more painful to actually enter their stores which to me makes no sense.

Its pretty obvious that part of its use is customer flow management, making sure customers enter one way and exit another.

So maybe its a way for them to keep track of the number of customers that enter? If so, why don’t they have similar gates at the exit (please don’t do this!)? I have to believe that there are much less intrusive ways to count your customers with cameras and sensors.

Another reason could be theft prevention by not letting people just walk in and out easily since the gates only allow people to enter, not exit.

Now I’m in no way a commercial architect but common sense decrees that a business should make it as inviting and easy as possible for customers to enter locations. To me, these gates do the exact opposite without a clear reason behind it.

If a customer is entering your place of business, wouldn’t it make sense for you to have the least amount of gates to go through? Counting the doors there are literally four gates to go through before I can start shopping at my Maxi.

My question is open to everyone who has a physical business. Why would you make it harder and less enjoyable for a customer to enter your business and spend money?