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Long queues at checkouts can cost millions

Published: 18. February 2016

A survey comissioned by StrongPoint shows that shoppers – particularly young shoppers – avoid to shop when they see queues.  The survey also shows that young shoppers are increasingly interested in new payment methods. Young shoppers search for alternative payments methods almost three times more often. Moreover, every fourth young shopper walks away from the store, leaving their baskets behind, when they see long queues.

For respondents younger than 29 years, a full 25% said that they leave the purchases and walk away from the store after seeing long queues.

According to Jørgen Waaler, StrongPoint CEO, the young generation will become the dominant buyer segment in the future, so retailers need to adapt to their changing demands. If they don’t, it can result in millions in lost revenue.
“We have done calculations on the average size of buyers’ baskets and the number of customers that visit a supermarket per day. Those calculations indicate losses due to left shopping baskets can amount to 1.47 MEUR per year.”

The survey also shows that customers younger than 29 years are three times more likely to choose a self-checkout than respondents of other ages.
This can be a good argument for installing a few self-checkouts, Waaler said, but points out that it’s important that the installation is done correctly.
“The self-checkouts have to be convenient and easy to use. Retailers should also carefully consider which stores would benefit the most from self-checkout installations.”

You can read more about the benefits of self-checkouts in our blog post “The self-checkout paradox – faster or slower?”.

Patience comes with age

Shoppers older than 29 years tend to wait in queues more regularly. However, it does not mean that they are satisfied with the process. New shopping methods and technology can vastly improve the shopping experience for this group as well. Self-checkouts can be relevant for this segment, just as personal scanning equipment that is available in some countries.
“Shoppers are more aware than ever about the various options that are available to enhance the shopping experience,” Waaler said. “This puts new demands on retailers to provide various solutions to maintain a positive shopping experience for the customers.”

Skewed perception of time

The survey results indicate that the majority of the respondents perceive that they spend up to 15 minutes in queues. Such perception of time spent in the queue indicates that buyers feel frustrated and dissatisfied with waiting in the line. However, waiting for a long time in line may be more a feeling than reality.
Waaler points to the informal studies that StrongPoint conducts continuously at customers, and says that the actual queue time is usually 3-4 minutes.
“But it’s the perceived queue time that influences the customers’ shopping experience,” he said. “Retailers that invest in technology for shorter queues are able to provide a better perceived shopping experience.”

Survey facts

Thinking about purchasing a self-checkout solution for your store? Download our guide “How to choose the right self-checkout solution”.