Ajaz Ahmed was unimpressed when he took a walk around Morrisons’ Merrion Centre store where a new logo is being tested.

Have you noticed that everyone’s an expert? Including me, I suppose.

I once gave a talk to a group of professors of entrepreneurship at a university but not one of them had actually started a business. I’d hate to be in their MBA class.

In Retail Week I saw the new trial logo that Morrisons is testing and was very disappointed.

The yellow things above the logo reminded me of coins going into a moneybox, so I decided that I needed to go to look at the actual logo in the Merrion Centre in Leeds. I was disappointed when I got there. 

Is anybody actually influenced by design? I meet a lot of people who say “design doesn’t affect me” but the truth is, people are affected by design.

Consumers spend a long time deciding how to decorate their homes. People spend a long time choosing what clothes to wear, when going on a date they spend of long time looking in the mirror because they want to look right. That’s the power of first impressions.

Logo redesign

When I saw the logo, I stood there and tried to figure out what those yellow things are.

I’ve since asked a number of people and everyone has given me a different answer. If I get a different answer each time then clearly it’s not working.

If someone from the design company sits down and explains it to me and I then say “ah”, what’s the point of that?

People outside Morrisons were walking past the sign at a fast pace, nobody was standing there analysing it.

I think the old logo needs to be refreshed, the ‘M’ with the round circle needs to be kept and a colour expert needs to be brought in.

The round ‘M’ can be used like the McDonalds ‘M’ to give Morrisons some badly needed personality.

I can imagine the ‘M’ with a tagline, being used on uniforms, signs, carrier bags, and adverts. It could work beautifully if executed properly.

Stores need a refresh

Then I went inside the store to find nothing had changed. Morrisons’ sales have gone down so why has the store not changed?

I could see old department signs – meat, fish etc. Everything had an old feeling about it – old fonts, old colours and old graphics.

The first impression is that the store felt and looked old. Just imagine if I was sitting with you and took a call on my 20-year-old Nokia phone. What would think about me?

Morrisons’ point of sale is very poorly designed. It uses a slab serif typeface based on the old Morrisons logo.

The spacing is wrong, the pound symbol is the same size as the price (it should be much smaller.) The printers are out of alignment, which means things are printed in the wrong place.

I found the spacing on the tickets is wrong – it should be 50p not 5 0p. I could go on and on but you get the idea. Morrisons doesn’t seem to understand typography and design.

The PoS problem can be fixed virtually overnight and it would cost nothing because tickets are replaced all the time. The only thing Morrisons has to do is redesign them and that’s not a big job.

Morrisons needs to use some psychology and decide on things such as, should the price come first or the product description?

Asda and Tesco display the price first. I think it should be the price because the first thing the customer wants to know is, how much is it?

They also need a use nice serif font. Customers’ impression of Morrisons will change as soon as they enter the store if they update the PoS.

Lack of empathy

But the thing that told me everything about Morrisons was in the meat fridge.

I was horrified to see the message in the shelf strip. It simply read ‘Priced’.

That single word says everything that’s wrong with Morrisons. It lacks empathy with its customers and those higher up in the company do not seem to understand that.

It’s only one word, but its words that confuse customers. ‘Priced’ is supposed to be telling the customer that the price of the meat is on the packet.

But it doesn’t communicate that, it’s very blunt and I was shocked when I read it. I walked around the store and found many other examples of how Morrisons doesn’t know how to communicate with customers.

Afterwards I went to other supermarkets to see how they communicate their meat prices with their customers. Waitrose: prices as marked. Sainsbury’s: see pack for price. M&S: see pack for price. Tesco: see product for price. Asda: as priced. Aldi: Price: see pack. The other supermarkets are all better at talking to their customers.

Poor merchandising

The merchandising in Morrisons was also poor. I’ve always questioned the layout of Morrisons stores. For instance, why is alcohol so close to the entrance when in other supermarkets it is closer to the end of a the store?

The Merrion Centre store is not massive and some of the prime space close to the checkouts is taken up with household products. The Merrion Centre branch is never going to be a destination store for household goods, and a typical Morrisons customer may buy a household item once a year.

If it got rid of household goods and replaced them with a larger range of groceries, the transaction value would likely increase. It is common sense really.

The problems in Morrisons can be fixed and it won’t necessarily cost lots of money. The store needs a Changing Rooms-style makeover and within a week it would be a different shop.

A friend of mine once sat next to Sir Ken Morrison at a dinner. He said to Sir Ken that he liked some of the things that Morrisons did and it must have a big department coming up with ideas.

Sir Ken responded: “You’re looking at him. If I come up with a good idea we’ll try it in one store, it that works we’ll try it in 10 and if that works we’ll roll it out throughout the company.”

Good old-fashioned retailing.

  • Ajaz Ahmed launched Freeserve and is the founder of Legal365.com