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6 Practical Queuing Tips for Retail

September 27, 2017Perry Kuklin

Surviving and thriving in today’s retail environment requires all aspects of your customer experience to be supremely optimized. Perhaps no aspect of brick-and-mortar retail has a more dramatic impact on the customer experience than waiting lines. Whether waiting for a dressing room, to return an item, or to check out with a new purchase, customer satisfaction is greatly influenced by wait times.

As you strive to cut wait times and improve your customers’ queuing experience, here are 6 tips you can put straight to work:

1. Light their way to the open station

Practical and purposeful, station lights provide the perfect solution to the challenge of quickly and effectively guiding the next customer to the next open register. A brightly lit station light is the universal symbol of an open cashier and can help eliminate the problem of under-utilized or over-burdened cashiers and ensure the next customer in line knows exactly where to go.

2. Ease the in-store pickup

Buying online and picking up in-store is fast becoming a popular solution for shoppers who want maximum convenience without the cost of shipping. Ensure customers aren’t stuck waiting in a line they had hoped to avoid. Virtual queuing that is integrated with your ecommerce platform can allow customers to send an alert via their mobile device when they have arrived to pick up their purchase. Then the customer can browse or simply find parking and walk to the pick up counter while your staff gathers their merchandise from inventory.

3. Eliminate the dressing room line

Nothing can make a shopper renege on a potential purchase faster than to see a long line at the dressing room. A practical tip here involves a virtual queue, assisted by a dressing room host. Your host can check in each customer to a virtual queue then send them off to continue shopping while they wait to be called to an open dressing room.

4. Automate the self-checkout queue

The promise of self checkout queues was to reduce wait times. Instead, many retailers have found customers waiting longer than expected and sometimes encountering confusing or chaotic waiting lines. A practical solution is a single line queue with an automated call-forward system that automatically directs customers to the next available service station using audio and visual cues. These solutions use sensors to detect when a station is free and helps eliminate delays that, over time, add up to longer wait times.

5. Switch to a single line queue

In our experience, the single biggest factor driving a customer’s waiting line experience is how they perceive the fairness of the line. First-come, first-served is the universal rule of fairness and a single line queue automatically instills this rule. Furthermore, a single line queue is proven to improve service efficiency and reduce wait times. The practical implication for retailers is to swap out your multi-line queues for a single-line/multi-server version.

6. Merchandise the waiting line

When customers are occupied, the wait times feels shorter. When it comes to retail, merchandising the waiting line makes sense in more ways than one. It allows you to capture last minute impulse sales before customers arrive to the checkout stand. And it allows you to keep customers occupied while they wait. Win-win.

These practical queuing tips can help you improve one of the critical factors that influence customer satisfaction. Take action now to reduce your wait times and improve your customer experience.

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