10 Dos and Don’ts of Effective In-Queue Merchandising

10 Dos and Don’ts of Effective In-Queue Merchandising

Last updated: March 21, 2023Perry Kuklin

In-queue merchandising has the dual potential to increase your profit per square foot by encouraging impulse sales AND to keep your customers occupied thereby reducing their perceived wait times. These two big wins are only possible with a merchandising strategy that is well-devised.

For our part, we have worked with some of the biggest names in the retail industry to understand what works and what doesn’t when it comes to in-queue merchandising and queuing. Here are some of our top “Dos” and “Don’ts”.

1. DO plan your space carefully.

It can be tempting to begin adding merchandising to your existing queue layout without thinking through the full impacts. A merchandised queue requires carefully planning around the width of the aisles, merchandising around the perimeter, and much more.

2. DON’T overdo it.

As the saying goes, too much of a good thing is still too much. Find the right balance of space and merchandise to keep your customers engaged without being overwhelming.

3. DO make it scalable.

If your business is like most, customer traffic ebbs and flows throughout the day, week, or season. Be prepared for those ebbs and flows by making your queue and your merchandising strategy scalable.  Include a retractable belted stanchion “short cut” midway through your queue that can be opened to shorten the queue during less-busy times and lengthened as traffic increases.

4. DON’T forget to mark the entrance.

The start of your waiting line is clear to you. But is it clear to a first-time customer? The addition of merchandising in a queue runs the risk of confusing the waiting line with yet another shopping area. Be sure you have a clear “cue to the queue”. Belted stanchions are the universal sign of a queue entrance. 

5. DO use the right fixtures for your merchandise.

When choosing a merchandising system for your waiting lines, it’s all about having the right fixtures for the job. Look for a fixture system that is the right height (not too tall) and that can be easily configured and angled at any degree, to fit any space. Something you might not consider is the importance of choosing a queue fixture system that doesn’t look the same as the other fixtures in your store. You want your queue to look like a queue, not like just another aisle of merchandise.

6. DON’T forget to prioritize your best merchandise at the head of the queue.

 A common mistake is to front-load merchandise at the entrance to the waiting line only to have customers walk right by on their way to the head of the queue. This is especially true in slower times where the waiting lines are shorter. Consider your merchandise placement accordingly.

7. DO bring in signage.

Signage can help a merchandised queue in many ways. Signage panels can help break up merchandising while providing branding or promotional opportunities.  It can also be used to display pricing or other information to help sell your products.

8. DON’T create hazardous turns.

Merchandising on the turns is tricky. This is especially true if your customers are pushing carts or strollers through your queue. Leave plenty of room for customers to navigate turns without knocking merchandise off the shelf. Use accessories that shield products from wayward carts and avoid embarrassing and damaging crash and spills.

9. DO consider the perimeter of the queue.

A well-defined waiting line will have well-defined areas on the outside of the queue that people must walk past or around to get to the start of your line. Don’t forget to use the perimeter of the queue for merchandising and take advantage of the foot traffic.

10. DON’T go too tall.

Don’t let your customers feel like they’re trapped in a tunnel of your products. The merchandise in your queue should be kept to a reasonable height so the average customer can easily see over the top.

Field studies have shown that in-queue merchandising can increase impulse sales at checkout by as much as 400 percent. With careful planning, your customers can leave happier, believing they spent less time in line while having spent more money doing so. Talk to a Lavi expert about setting up this win-win for your business.


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