Long Lines Gets Shoppers PO’d
By George Anderson
Of all the things consumers hate about shopping, waiting in line at the checkout may be just about the worst. Even shoppers who have spent a considerable time in the store have
been known to abandon carts and walk out if they feel as though they are not moving quickly enough through checkout.
According to Paco Underhill, retail analyst and author of Why We Buy and Call of the Mall, consumers lose perspective of how much time they’ve actually spent waiting
to check out once the five-minute mark has been reached.
“It’s really amazing how time is inflated when people are frustrated,” he told The Tennessean.
Some retailers have gone to self-checkouts as a means to “speed” consumers through the last stage of the shopping trip. Here too, the time-savings consumers feel they achieve
is inflated, said Greg Buzek, president of IHL Consulting Group.
According to Mr. Buzek, his company’s studies have shown that cashiers get shoppers checked out faster when they do it themselves. The benefit of self-checkouts is that, by keeping
shoppers busy, customers develop the perception that they’re getting checked out faster.
Other stores, such as Apple Computer, have tried to speed the checkout process by equipping sales floor staff with hand-held devices that allow them to scan a customer’s credit
card on the spot. A local Apple Store in the Nashville area says it processed 20 percent of its store transactions through these devices.
The store’s manager, Jeanne Brock said, “I think it (the hand-held devices) will help sales. If someone sees a long line, they might put their stuff down and walk out.”
Moderator’s Comment: Which retailers are doing the most effective job of making customers happy at the checkout? How are they achieving their results?
George Anderson – Moderator