Retailers prone to queues in their stores are essentially driving consumers reason to visit their competitors on the high street or online.
But “Brits love to queue” goes the saying. Not anymore. Even if that adage was once true in, and the evidence is spurious to say the least, we now live in a world of instant gratification. Whether it’s ordering an item for one-hour delivery, demanding an instant answer to a retail-related query, or uploading an image of their latest outfit online to gauge quick feedback from peers, consumer patience in the shopping journey has shortened.
Recent research of ours showed that 38% of consumers have previously abandoned a purchase because of long queues. And according to our data, nine minutes is the time consumers are most likely to give up queuing and leave empty handed, while 86% of shoppers will avoid a store altogether if they deem the queue too long.
Highlighting the potential tension that arises when waiting to pay, 19% of shoppers said they have had an argument with a partner or friend in a queue. And consumers – particularly the younger generation who have never known a world without Google, smartphones and social media – understand that the technological capability exists to eliminate the traditional shopping pain points.
For these reasons, queues will not be part of future stores.
Technology deployed in shops such as kiosks or mobile point of sale (MPoS) systems can improve the customer flow and help avoid congestion altogether. Well-positioned digital signage can also provide wayfinding to help prevent queues from forming and can also engage and inform customers throughout the in-store environment.
Kiosks allowing customers to serve themselves will reduce the strain on store associates as shoppers can seek answers to any queries that arise instantly. Setting these up in shops will also allow consumers to see if an item they desire is available at another branch or arrange for the products to be delivered to a destination of their choosing if they are out of stock.
A growing number of industry players now offer these facilities, as well as MPoS which enables store staff to take payments from anywhere on the shop floor – as opposed to directing them to the back of the shop for someone else to serve.
And in addition to being used for aesthetics, marketing or product demonstrations, interactive digital signage can offer a functional PoS capability - this is the new world of retail.
An industry trend – particularly in the grocery market – that started as self-scan, morphed into self-service checkouts and has now manifested itself in multiple sectors in the form of self-service kiosks, mobile selling points and changing room PoS. A recent Future Stores survey of retailers found that most have rolled out or are currently trialling digital checkouts/point of sale and tablets to assist store associate services.
The key point is that all of this technology exists and can be used to engage customers, providing a more personalised service that removes frustrating waiting times. To put it succinctly, if your retail business is not looking to utilise the raft of technology now available to reduce queues, someone else will. And it is there your customers will choose to go to spend their hand-earned pay.