A recent PricewaterhouseCoopers study on grocery stores – “Front of the Line: How Grocers Can Get Ahead for the Future” – suggests, along with personalizing marketing strategies, improving loyalty programs, and transforming technology, that retailers can enable change and improve what they offer customers by tailoring their brick-and-mortar stores to bring products closer to customers. This means locating stores closer in proximity to where your customers live and work, but also making stores easier to navigate for a “quick in-and-out.” One of the recommendations fitting within this idea is to facilitate a smooth checkout process. We have all experienced the grocery store checkout – sometimes it’s painless, sometimes it’s quite the opposite. Certain types of checkout options can hit a nerve with customers – congested stores and long checkout lines are top frustrations for shoppers, as PwC discovered – and this can impact customer loyalty. Here are some of our top tips to improve grocery store queuing to, in turn, create a smoother checkout process overall:
Flying in the face of traditional grocery store queuing and the commonly held belief that multiple lines are faster than a single line, there is something to be said for a single line queue that leads to multiple checkout stations. It is actually faster and fairer than multiple separate checkout lines for individual cashiers. Customers may have a hard time seeing the benefits if they’re standing in what looks like one long serpentine line, especially if they’re only going to the grocery store for a few items (in which case a separate “express” queue is still warranted). But, believe it or not, a single-line queue will improve service efficiency, shorten actual wait times, and lead to greater customer satisfaction. It’s just that initial hurdle that will take some convincing. Watch our video for a clever explanation: /en/resources-detail/make-it-a-single-line-queue.
Because most self-checkout experiences are void of defined, easy-to-navigate queues, they lose out on the increased engagement and impulse sales inherent with traditional checkout lines. Here again, a well-defined, organized, single-line queue creates fairness, decreases customer frustration, and allows the introduction of in-line merchandising to the self-checkout process, engaging waiting customers, and boosting your bottom line through increased impulse sales.
The psychology of queuing – in other words, how people “feel” about their wait – is more important than the actual time spent waiting. This has been proven time and again and has resulted in a set of queuing tenets you should keep in mind. These include:
Grocery store shopping is part of our everyday lives, but fickle customers can just as easily go down the street to a competitor. The message to grocers is to take time to critically evaluate your queuing strategies. Even small improvements can go a long way toward improving customer satisfaction, impulse sales, and profitability.