It’s something many of us dream about.
You picture yourself, armed with a big shopping cart and your running shoes, poised at the warehouse entrance, ready to sprint up and down the aisles, hurling as many items as possible into your cart.
And whatever you grab and drop is yours. For free!
TV shows have been made around the concept. There’s a board game that lets you play out the idea on your dining table. There are YouTube videos that feature the crazy racing around and ensuing hilarity.
The idea has even made its way into incentive programs. Companies choose their top employees and reward them with an opportunity to do exactly this. Shop for a limited time and keep whatever they throw into their cart.
Most of these “warehouse run” programs have their pros and cons, and we’re going to talk about them today.
What’s a Warehouse Run?
A free shopping spree incentive program is a great way for companies to reward employees for their hard work. This program typically rewards the winning employee with a set amount of money or points to use on a shopping spree.
The employee is then given a specified and limited time frame to shop and make purchases, usually within the company’s store or online.
The term “free shopping spree” is sometimes used interchangeably with other terms, like:
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- Warehouse Run
- Five-Minute Shopping Spree
- Shopping Sweep
- Warehouse Windfall
- Supermarket Sweep
- 60-Second Shopping Challenge
These types of incentives are popular among employers as they allow them to recognize and reward employees without needing to purchase any merchandise in advance. They also enable employers to customize incentives according to the preferences of their employees.
Free shopping sprees are a great way to boost morale, create positive feelings among coworkers, and add a gaming element to the experience.
What’s Not to Like About a Warehouse Run Experience?
Free shopping sprees are an incredibly popular incentive program for employees, as they offer a reward that people can use immediately and is also practical. Employees are often pleased when offered something tangible rather than a cash bonus that can be put towards something else.
According to an article in the Washington Post Journal, some companies believe that one of the best ways to reward “outstanding performance and inspire employee loyalty is a chance to shop ’til they drop.”
They reference several companies who have offered this type of incentive program to their employees and where the shopping extravaganza takes place.
- Jordan, Nicholas, Elliott Inc. (a company that runs multiple restaurants) lets their high performers loose on a local Winn-Dixie. The winners get between two to four minutes to fill their shopping carts and even get to have coworkers help. The company invites its entire staff and turns the outing into a corporate pep rally. The coworkers can run alongside the shopper, not physically helping, but cheering them along the way.
- RetailMeNot gave some of their top employees two minutes to grab everything they could at the South Austin Costco. Angela Wong and her designated helper grabbed almost $25,000 worth of goods in the time allotted.
- An Ohio healthcare system offers a $300 shopping trip at a local Columbus mall to employees who have worked for the company for over 20 years. One employee, Lianna Dickerson, gushed, “You’re the star for the day. You feel great.”
- Winning employees at Akraya Inc in Sunnyvale, California, were given $150 in cash from their CEO and the opportunity to spend it any way they liked at a nearby mall. Not all Warehouse Run Experiences need to break the bank!
The feeling of getting something for free, even if it’s only for a limited amount of time, is a huge draw for people. Shopping sprees also allow employees to get items they may not have been able to afford otherwise.
The benefits of a Warehouse Run Experience are enormous. They can be used as a high-value incentive to reward employees with recognition, motivating them to reach higher goals and even increasing overall employee satisfaction.
Incentive programs like these can also encourage team bonding and collaboration by offering employees the chance to work together to create an enjoyable experience for everyone. This can foster a sense of camaraderie and help workers become better team members.
Reality Check for a Warehouse Run Experience
At first blush, it doesn’t seem like there could be much wrong with the concept of rewarding and incentivizing your employees with a free shopping trip. But when it comes to actually building one of these incentive programs for your team, there may be some things to consider along the way.
Clearly, if you’re considering setting up a warehouse run experience for your employees, it’s because rewarding your staff in a valuable and fun way is important to you. Your employees matter, and keeping them motivated and happy with how your company treats them is important to you.
One caution around using a Warehouse Run Experience is whether the event meets the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance standards. This act was created to ensure that all individuals, regardless of disability, have the same workplace opportunities. This includes access to any company incentive programs, such as a free shopping spree.
Employers must provide reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities if requested. This includes allowing employees to participate in the incentive program even if they cannot physically visit the store.
Employers should also consider making their incentive program accessible to employees who are deaf or hard of hearing by providing detailed written instructions and offering assistance from knowledgeable personnel. Similarly, employers should ensure that all promotional materials used for the incentive program are accessible to individuals with visual impairments by providing larger print materials or Braille instructions.
Even those employees who don’t have a recognized disability can be at a disadvantage when their reward is linked to a certain fitness level. There may be disappointment felt among staff when an employee who runs marathons in their spare time can end up with a far greater reward than their less-fit coworkers.
This can also lead to issues with this reward by creating an environment where there is competition between employees. While the Warehouse Run Experience is intended to gamify and create excitement in an incentive program, it’s important to ensure that companies work hard to create an environment of friendly competition that is not overly competitive and hostile.
As with other incentive programs, it’s critical to ensure that the rules to winning whatever type of competition is required to race and shop are clear and that the program is open to all employees on equal terms.
Free shopping sprees can be expensive for companies, as they may require purchasing items to give away. Companies need to ensure that the program’s cost does not exceed the potential benefit it will bring.
On the other hand, you’ll want to ensure that your Warehouse Run Experience isn’t somewhere filled with closeouts or older models rather than the latest and greatest merchandise.
You’ll also want to consider whether your staff will find the experience truly fun. While some employees might love the competitive nature and the opportunity to shop within a set and usually short amount of time, others might find it difficult to make decisions while feeling pressure from a countdown clock.
How to Develop a Better Warehouse Run Experience
To ensure your Warehouse Run Experience is successful, it is important to consider key points before launching it.
First, decide who is eligible to participate in the program and what the rules are for participation. Decide if the program will be open to all employees or only certain departments, how long it will last, what items are eligible for purchase, and other restrictions that you feel are necessary.
Second, create guidelines for how employees can use their free shopping spree. It’s important to set limits on how much they can spend and on which items they are allowed to purchase. You may also want to consider implementing a voucher system that allows employees to purchase items from a predetermined list of retailers.
Third, ensure that there is sufficient monitoring of the program. This can include tracking what employees purchase and if any items have been returned or exchanged. A strict return policy will help ensure that employees are using the program responsibly and not taking advantage of it.
Finally, be sure to provide incentives for employees who make the most of their free shopping spree. For example, you could offer additional rewards for employees who exceed their spending limit or purchase items that are difficult to find elsewhere.
What We Offer
We at Level 6 have one of the best Warehouse Run Experience programs for companies across the board. It keeps all the excitement and positive outcomes of this type of incentive program but eliminates all of the issues with the traditional format.
Our first-of-its-kind Warehouse Run Experience program allows for a private shopping experience that includes all of the luxury items a winner could want. It includes everything, including the latest electronics, jewelry, appliances, exercise equipment, furniture, man cave toys, and much more.
Rather than running around with a timer like a maniac, this relaxed experience allows employees two to three hours of shopping and even provides trained sales reps who are on hand to assist with questions and any issues.
The experience eliminates any possible ADA compliance issues and potential disadvantaging of those who are limited in how quickly they can run and how much weight they can pick up; it still allows for the camaraderie of a shared experience in a central location, video opportunities, a “use-it-or-lose-it” mentality, and more.
We’re so excited to let you know what’s coming from Level 6 in the near future!
Sweeten the Pot
In the meantime, here are some highlights from Ben Wieder’s recent book, Sweeten the Pot. He is the brains behind Level 6, where we provide clients with the tools they need to achieve improved ROI by leveraging the latest in behavior modification technology.
Ben knows more about one specific aspect of marketing than about 99.9% of his peers: Incentive programs. When he was first approached by a client to design and implement a full, turn-key sales incentive program, he stopped by a local bookstore to get a crash course on how this type of program worked and what he needed to know in order to develop one.
To his surprise, there was a gap in the resource literature on incentive programs, and he relied on his natural grit and determination to provide the client with exactly what they needed.
Since the mid-2000s, he and the rest of the team at Level 6 have worked hard to figure out how to build amazing custom incentive programs that have issued millions of dollars of incentives for clients, creating significant ROI in multiple industries.
The bottom line is that we’ve saved our clients money and made their lives easier, and we continue to do so. Our blog posts often deal with the nitty gritty aspects of incentive programs, but we believe that at least some understanding of the topics that underpin the philosophies behind incentive programs can be helpful.
At its foundation, understanding why humans do the things they do can be helpful as you consider developing irresistible incentive programs that will reward and satisfy both your customers and your employees.
We’ve all heard about the difference between our left and right hemisphere brains. The left side of our brain demands we deal with things rationally — weighing the pros and cons, taking existing evidence into account, and ultimately coming to a conclusion that’s based on facts and evidence.
The right side of our brain is responsible for emotions, creativity, and big-picture thinking. It’s not satisfied with “just the facts” and wants to feel at least a certain degree of emotional satisfaction.
Although everyone has these “competing” sides of their brains, it’s obvious that some folks are more heavily driven by their left brain while others are more influenced by their right brain.
The best incentive programs make sure that both sides of the brain are happy — the program makes sense on paper with a measurable outcome that’s subjectively positive and feels good while doing.
“When you give people something that makes both their logical, rational, parochial left brain and their emotional, feeling, creative right brain happy, you can directly influence their choices, performances, and attitude. When you’re helping people feel good about their decisions on multiple levels, their behavior becomes a lot easier to predict. As you’ll see throughout this book, that’s exactly what incentives do for us.”
Ben refers to Levitt and Dubner’s bestselling books, Freakanomics and Superfreakanomics. They point out that “the vast majority of our behavior is incentives-driven.” Incentives can be economic, moral, or social, and sometimes both or all three at the same time.
After several years of working in the incentives industry, it’s become abundantly clear to us: No two clients are ever the same.
“At the end of the day, real-world experience is the key to designing a corporate incentive program that has both the intended impact on your workforce, dealers or customers and aligning with the unique needs and values of your organization.”
Click here to request a complimentary copy of Sweeten the Pot!
Claudine is the Chief Relationship Officer at Level 6. She holds a master’s degree in industrial/organizational psychology. Her experience includes working as a certified conflict mediator for the United States Postal Service, a human performance analyst for Accenture, an Academic Dean, and a College Director. She is currently an adjunct Professor of Psychology at Southern New Hampshire University. With over 20 years of experience, she joined Level 6 to guide clients seeking effective ways to change behavior and, ultimately, their bottom line.