How Retailers Can Cut the Queues and Reduce Customers’ Waiting Time

Shoppers waiting in a queue

Queue wait times can be a significant frustration for customers and can lead to poor customer experiences, leading to lower sales and revenue.

After spending more than half an hour browsing and finding what I wanted to buy, I walked out of the store without making a purchase. Why? The checkout queue was too long. With more than ten people ahead of me, I estimated that I would be in the queue for at least another thirty minutes. This was because despite two employees nearby who were breaking up cardboard boxes, only one person was operating the tills.

Consequently, the delay gave me time to reflect on my purchase and I decided it was simply not worth the wait. I’m uncertain if it will deter me from returning, but one thing is certain: I won’t be rushing back anytime soon.

So, what can we learn from this? Firstly, as soon as a queue forms at the checkout, it’s crucial to notify other staff members for assistance. Aldi, the German supermarket chain, implements an effective system where a checkout employee rings a bell if their queue becomes too long. The next available employee promptly opens an additional till. This is why you rarely see more than three or four customers in line at Aldi.

Of course, the individuals responsible for non-checkout work would need the necessary training to operate a till. Having a versatile team capable of expediting the checkout process is essential for stores to optimize sales and profits.

Here are some more ways retail stores can cut the queues and reduce customer waiting time.

Opt for Self-Service Checkouts

Self-service checkouts are designed to help customers quickly scan, bag, and pay for their purchases without having to wait in line at a traditional checkout counter. Customers can scan their items, weigh them if required, and pay for their purchases using a self-checkout kiosk, which saves time and reduces wait times. Also, retailers should encourage customers to use self-checkout through incentives, such as loyalty programs.

Use Mobile Checkouts

Mobile checkouts are another great way to reduce queue wait times. Retailers can use mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets to help customers scan, bag, and pay for their purchases. This way, customers can complete their transactions without ever having to leave the shopping aisle. It is an excellent way to optimize the shopping experience and provide customers with a better overall experience.

Offer Pre-Order and Pickup Services

Pre-ordering service is an excellent way for customers to avoid queues altogether. Retailers can allow customers to pre-order items from their app or website and notify them when the items are ready for pickup. Customers can then pick up their purchases at a designated counter, avoiding the long checkout queues altogether. Pre-ordering and pickup services are convenient and time-efficient for both the retailer and the customer.

Increase the Number of Checkouts

Increasing the number of traditional checkout counters is another way to cut down queuing times. During peak hours, such as weekends and holiday shopping seasons, retailers should ensure they have enough checkout counters to cater to the demand.

Employee Training

Employee training plays a crucial role in reducing queue wait times. Retailers must train their employees to handle various processes, such as handling returns and exchanges, scanning items, issuing refunds, etc. Inadequate training can lead to errors and delays, which eventually result in longer queue wait times. Retailers must ensure their staff members are proficient in the necessary skills so that they can efficiently handle customers and reduce wait times.

Summing Up

By implementing these methods, retailers can significantly reduce queuing times and provide a more enjoyable shopping experience for customers. With fewer queues and shorter wait times, shoppers are more likely to return and become loyal customers, which ultimately contributes to higher sales, revenue and growth.

About the Author

Ian Miller, CSMIan Miller is Editor of Customer Service Manager Magazine – the leading resource and community for customer service professionals.

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