Retailers spend plenty of time thinking about how to get more and higher-value customers through their doors. Sometimes it’s the right mix of merchandise or competitive pricing that draws in the desired customer type. A high level of customer service never hurts – in fact, service excellence drives improved customer satisfaction, higher customer retention, better employee morale, and greater flexibility and reduced attrition. Unfortunately, there’s a crucial juncture of the shopping experience – and its impact on the quality of overall service – to which many retailers fail to give enough credence and attention: the checkout line and associated queue management strategies.
If a retail operation is to thrive, there is no question that the integral role of the checkout line in a customer’s shopping venture cannot be overlooked. Consider that 49 percent of customers will walk away at the mere existence of a line of waiting customers, 81 percent are likely to share a bad experience with others, and 38 percent would consider permanently shopping elsewhere because of lines that are too long or poorly managed. When retailers fail to manage their queues effectively, customers may opt to balk (abandon planned purchases before entering the checkout line) or renege (abandon a queue after waiting in line for a period of time). This could involve leaving behind a full cart wherever they stand or putting items back on a shelf. Some customers don’t even make it through the doors because they perceive that the lines are far too long for them to warrant a visit to that store at all. The financial impacts of queue mismanagement can be significant – just a 5 percent loss of total in-store sales caused by balking and reneging during a heavy shopping period, such as Black Friday weekend, would translate to over $1 billion in lost sales.
It may seem that a checkout line has a life of its own and can’t really be managed given the variables that change from customer to customer and the time of day. But those are precisely the components that can be monitored, studied, and used to help develop a customized queue management strategy. The implementation of real-time queue management technology enables retailers to be proactive about their checkout lines, shifting strategies to gel with ebbs and flows in traffic so that transaction times can be shortened and customers can be appeased. Consistency is possible in a checkout line, and so is the opportunity to create even happier customers. Queue management deserves attention because waiting in line impacts customer satisfaction, which in turn impacts profitability and long-term business success. Discuss your queue management strategy with a Lavi expert to find out how you can improve customer satisfaction in your checkout lines.