Long lines at the checkout – often a drama for both customers and retailers. Nobody wants to wait in a long line to pay for their groceries, right? Well…. assumption is the mother of all fuck-ups – especially when it comes to the checkout line.
What constitues as (too) long…?
The difficulty of this problem starts with the definition of ‘too long’. What is ‘too long’ for me, means something entirely different to you. Someone in a hurry might feel that one minute is too long, however someone with a lot of time on their hands might not mind at all.
There are more and more solutions being introduced on to the market helped by camera and/or sensor techniques that measure the queue time. How long have people been waiting in line? How many people are in line waiting? All relevant information for stores looking to improve their checkout process in order to offer as smooth experience as possible.
If, for example, we decided that four customers in line is a lot, and it shouldn’t take more than one and a half minutes per customer, then you should be able to measure whether you’re doing well or not. You can automate the checkouts, opening and closing them with this data. But what does this data mean without the perception of the customer?
A retail customer in the US thought that there was a problem regarding the checkouts in several of their stores. Upon observation, the store managers decided that the lines were (too) long. Also, it was difficult to estimate what the peak times were and therefore, it was difficult to adjust the employee rota accordingly.
When we placed the TryLikes buttons at the checkouts, asking customers to share their opinion on the waiting time, we expected a low score (a lot of dislikes). The data however, showed something else entirely.
On average they scored 90% likes! (TryLikes Retail Benchmark with regards to Checkout lines is 78%). When the cashiers asked customers what they liked about waiting in line at the checkout, many answered that, for them, it was a fun social moment in their day. These supermarkets were often in more remote areas, meaning that this moment of contact was often the only time that day for a friendly chat!
Furthermore, there were very obvious peaks in the dislikes. When the store tried to improve things to better the score, they placed more employees in the self-scanning part of the store so that customers could be helped better and faster.
Had the store chosen to use hard data, they might have chosen to take more expensive measures to try and improve circumstances for customers – which they might not have even wanted.
This is a simple, but clear example that it’s extremely important to take your customers into consideration before you decide what parameters your business KPI’s should have.
The checkout-less store
Of course, there are a lot of companies out there working on checkout-less stores (awesome!) or other seamless shopping experiences. However, it’ll probably be a while before all stores are on board with these solutions and then there’s the problem of it being an expensive solution at that. Furthermore, there are a lot other KPI’s where the perception of the consumer will have to be measured.
Want to know how you can bring your checkout line into focus? How to measure the perception of your visitors and customers?