Queue Management Book for Modern Retailers [Free]

queue management for modern retailers

Both research and experience suggest that a customer’s evaluation of the quality of service strongly depends on the time spent waiting in line. The more your customers have to wait for service at your store, the lower the perceived quality of service.

It’s agonizing for customers to wait in line. In today’s world of instant gratification, people want and expect their needs to be handled quickly and efficiently. Customers that are forced to wait for a few minutes before receiving service feel as if they’re being tortured

Research also shows that when it comes to customer’s experiences of waiting in line, retail stores fare very poorly. A recent poll showed that of 10 everyday waiting experiences, customers found checking out at a retail store the 2nd most frustrating wait – behind only the wait at the DMV, according to NCR Corp.

Queue management is an essential part of any brick & mortar retail operation.

How to Get Your Team On Board With Queue Management

Let’s face it. When your queues are unmanaged and out of control, your customers aren’t the only ones feeling the pain. Your employees have to bear the brunt of long lines and frustrated buyers for hours on end. Not only does this make their jobs harder, but it also lowers customer service levels and the potential for future sales.

When scanning the purchase at the register, 61% of customers agree that the staff focuses more on scanning items and less on customer satisfaction, according to a recent study by Harris Poll for Digimarc. 30% of respondents said they felt more like a burden to the clerk when they walked up to the cash register with a large cart.

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How to Incorporate Technology Into Your Queue Management Plan

Take a look around. No matter whether you’re in a coffee shop or clothing store, people are using technology to stay connected. It’s proliferated our personal lives. Has your retail store kept up, or are you operating in the dark ages?

If your store isn’t using the type of technology you should be, you could be missing out on some big time sales.

Technology streamlines the shopping process. From trying on clothes to making a purchase, technology is used to not only ease, but also encourage the transaction. It takes a load off your employee’s shoulders and brings your business into the modern consumer’s world.

Here are three types of technology you might want to incorporate in your store to make your queues run smoother and move faster.

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Top 3 Risks of Failing to Invest in Queue Management

In your store, it’s your customer against the line. When your buyer walks in, the first thing she notices is how long she’s going to have to wait for a fitting room or to check out. If you’re plagued with long queues, you’re losing sales.

The sales are not a temporary sales loss either. Long queues have a long-term impact.

Letting lengthy queues perpetuate in your stores can do serious damage to your brand.

  • Your customers will continually think of your store as providing poor customer service;
  • Your associates will feel stressed, causing them to act more rushed and provide a poorer level of customer service;
  • You will have a higher abandonment or walk off rate;
  • Your brand perception in the market will take a blow;
  • You’ll have fewer loyal customers;
  • Your word-of-mouth marketing will suffer.

When you ignore your long queues and hope they’ll disappear on their own (they won’t) you face 3 major queue management risks.

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Retailers: Learn From the Houston Airport How to Lower Wait Times

You’ve likely heard the phrase, “perception is reality.” When it comes to wait times, no truer words have ever been spoken. One organization that knows this is the Houston International Airport. For years, the airport received complaints from travelers about the long wait times. After their flight, they hated having to stand around waiting for their luggage. The airport hired more personnel and improved their wait times, but the complaints kept coming in. No matter what the airport did, travelers hated waiting for their luggage to arrive after a long travel day. Over 85% of their time in the airport was spent at the carousels waiting for their luggage to arrive. Read more

4 Reasons That Wait Times are Costing You Sales

When you’re standing in line, how do you feel? At ease? Sympathetic to the cashiers rushing through each customer’s purchase? Or do you feel tortured?

According to a New York Times article, waiting is torture. This notion isn’t new. In the post-World War II era, mirrors started popping up next to elevators to ease the wait time blues. The mirrors were meant to distract the person waiting, making the time go by faster.

The Houston Airport did a similar approach. Wait times were costing them customer service rankings. To combat this, they rearranged the airport so travelers walked further to the baggage claim area, lessening the time they spent standing and waiting.

In the retail industry, customer wait times are a major concern too. In fact, they’re costing many stores money. Here’s how:

Scared Away By the Perception of Long Customer Wait Times

While window shopping at the mall, your customer sees a blouse that catches her eye. Then she glances towards the cash wrap and sees a long line. Many times, this line is enough to turn her away and make her avoid shopping with you. Someone who might have spent money was already so frustrated by the potential wait time that she never stepped foot in your store.

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Customers Abandon Purchases When Queues Stay Long

Perhaps there wasn’t a long line when your buyer came in, but now there is. She glances over at the line and frowns. Instead of standing around waiting to make her purchase, she decides to keep browsing.

On the surface, this scenario might seem ideal. However, the longer your customer has to continue browsing the store waiting to buy an item, the higher the likelihood that she’ll leave before she gets in line. You’ve lost a sale before ever knowing your customer was waiting in line.

Click here to learn how to optimize queue length in your store

Customers Put Back Items Before Buying

Sometimes, a customer won’t wait to see if the line diminishes. Instead, she’ll put her items back right away and leave before buying.

This is common among customers who are making impulse purchases. The items in their hand aren’t something they need right away so instead, they choose to put them back and leave. Perhaps they’ll go see if they can find them online. Perhaps they’ll find what they’re looking for at your competitor’s store. In either case, they’re not buying from you.

Customers Wait in Line and then Never Return

What happens to the customer who begrudgingly stands in line and waits? She reaches the cash register and makes her purchase. You got your sale. Why should you worry?

Many customers will stand in line and wait, but they won’t forget their poor experience. While watching the cashier check out the people in front of them, they’ll make mental notes about whether or not they want to return. Most of the time, their mental note isn’t a positive one. You’ve just lost a potential repeat buyer all because of one bad experience with a wait time.

What Can You Do?

Finding ways to hide lines or make them appear smaller is essential to getting shoppers in your store. With multiple cash registers, or a simple rearrangement of your store, you can avoid scaring away your potential buyers.

Want other ways to minimize wait times (or at least make wait times feel less torturous)? We’ve put together a few smart approaches. Download your free copy of “What is Your Queue Costing You? Queue Management for Modern Retailers” to find out the top solutions for lowering wait times in retail stores.

Queue Management for Retailers