We live in a world where instant gratification is a must and where customers expect to have anything they want at the tip of their hands. With online shopping on the rise and the convenience of the ‘buy now’ button, shoppers have become increasingly impatient when it comes to retail services.

To survive in a fast-paced environment, one thing is sure: no one can afford to waste too much time. As one of the most common shopper frustrations, long waiting queues pose a real challenge to retailers. Since cash desks are the last in-store touchpoints you have with shoppers, the way retailers approach this problem is the make or break deal. With that in mind, we took a closer look at the issue to identify how to deliver a positive last impression.

Bad queue management results in loss in sales

Curious to know what is the major killer mood for 50 percent of shoppers? Waiting in long queues, at least according to the recent research conducted by Bosch. Customers' frustrations even surpass the inability to find a product they are looking for, indicating they would rather not buy an item than have to wait in line to get it.
Long queues are not only damaging customer’s satisfaction but are also negatively affecting sales. The European Retail Report suggests bad queue management as one of the reasons customers abandon purchases, resulting in an estimated £14.3 billion loss in sales for this reason alone. Another British survey emphasized their stores would lose 10 percent of their footfall due to long queues, making us wonder why retailers are not putting more effort to fight this issue.

We admit - no one likes waiting in queues, but some are still more impatient than others. As expected, findings show that young shoppers have a lot less tendency to wait in queues, compared to older consumers. Shoppers aged 55+ were considered as the most patient ones, being willing to wait up to 7 minutes. Shoppers between 25-34 were the least patient, waiting up to 6.39 minutes. These discoveries go hand in hand with the statistics that show younger consumers’ preference for self-service checkouts, which could reduce the waiting time.

The lack of queue management leads to a loss in sales and the suffering of a brand’s reputation. If customers repeatedly have to wait in queues every time they visit your store, they might start avoiding your store or switching to your competitor.
Bad queue management not only impacts the shoppers, but also the store staff. If employees are constantly interrupted in their activity to go and open an additional checkout, this will negatively affect their productivity. With such damaging effects, what can retailers do to improve queue management and reduce waiting lines? We’ve gathered some tips:

Introduce Digital Queuing

Shoppers can now check in online through a digital queue system

Why do we like online shopping? Primarily because it is fast and efficient. With innovative technologies underway, brick-and-mortars could take the best of both worlds and apply IoT to improve their queue management system.

An effective innovation that could potentially help solve the issue is digital queues. Rather than physically waiting, shoppers can check ‘in line’ from their mobile devices, visiting the checkout once it is their turn to pay. If you’re using touchscreens in-store, you can encourage clients to access through it the queueing application, simultaneously offering product information and engaging the shopper. Thanks to digital queues, shoppers have more freedom to walk around the store and continue exploring, while technically still ‘waiting’ in the queue.  Updating on the queuing situation in real-time, this also helps staff manage their activities promptly.

An efficiently organized queuing system prevents the stores from becoming overcrowded in checkout areas, bettering the overall store atmosphere. As shoppers check-in queues through their phones, this also provides an invaluable opportunity to get valuable customer data.

Reduce the perceived waiting time

Did you know that our perception of waiting time is fairly accurate up to a minute and a half, but afterward, we tend to overestimate how long we’re in a queue? To reduce the perceived waiting time, one solution is to keep your shoppers busy.

While your shoppers are waiting in line, this is your chance to encourage last-minute, impulse purchases by putting affordable, complementary products in queues. To do so, you should place products with a sensual appeal, practical purchases, and complementary buys. We have already written in detail about methods that encourage impulse buying, and you can read all about it here.

Lower the queuing anxiety

A common frustration present among most of us is not knowing how long we will have to stand in queue before we’re able to access the cash desk. This feeling of uncertainty is more dangerous than retailers think, as it may result in ‘queuing anxiety’.

Anxious queuing can greatly lower the shopping experience

One way to prevent this is to apply a queue management system in your store. Gathering real-time data about the wait time and the customers, this tactic informs shoppers of their status in the queue. If shoppers know how long they will have to wait, this will reduce their stress levels and make them feel more at ease. The data-based service will not only lower the perceived time but will also help store managers allocate their personnel accordingly. In this way, staff can in advance open more checkouts and avoid overcrowding.

As a retailer, look at queues as a great opportunity to captivate the attention of your audience and communicate with them important, relevant messages. If you’re using a display to show the queue status, why wouldn’t you also share information about your latest products, discounts, and offers? In this way, you can encourage shoppers to take advantage of your services at the counter.

Besides the queue management system, having staff interact with queuing shoppers can also help reduce their anxiety. Floor personnel can walk around, offer products to try out, distribute treats, or carry displays where shoppers can sign up for newsletters. By engaging with customers, this is also an ideal chance to receive invaluable real-time feedback about your service.

As the checkout process is the last touchpoint you will have with your customers in the store, it has great aptitude to transform the overall shopping experience. Blending technology and creativity, you can turn the queuing frustration into an advantage by engaging your customers, receiving their feedback and collecting valuable data. If done correctly, this can differentiate you greatly from competitors and further improve the shoppability of your store.

Are you curious to learn more? Through our integrated decision-making platform at StoreDNA, we help you deliver dramatically improved performance through better product assortments, store layouts, visual merchandising, and associate optimization. Learn more here.