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.
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.
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.