Turning ‘Point of wait’ into ‘point of sale’

IMAG0621Are queues at the checkout a retail fact of life?

Well sure they were, but in today’s environment when shoppers have the whole world of retail at their fingertips in a few keystrokes, if you’re asking customers to queue up for more than a few moments you’d better have a good think about how you’re operating. Not only are you making their lives frustrating, you’re also missing valuable opportunities. I’ve seen research by American Express which measured the incidence of abandoned purchases caused by queues, and attempted to value the loss to the retail sector…you can imagine the numbers were really impressive – and not in a good way!

What do do about queues?

Assuming you’re not crazy enough to throw money into more staff and more tills, you have two options.tills

The first is to retain your checkout system but introduce technology to speed payment (like tap n go card readers) and at the same time deploy queue area display screens to entertain, inform and of course sell to customers as they wait in line. We deployed an impulse channel above the tills for the phenomenally successful value chain Chemist Warehouse which is working just great – a classic opportunity to promote add-on impulse sales.

The other option is to deploy a self-checkout system or mobile assisted checkout.

Self checkout is a rapidly evolving area. You’ve probably used the self checkout area in the supermarket. It’s a partial success. For a start those are big expensive units which require major work to install. Furthermore, you’ll notice that they still require support and assist staff…my observation is that one or two staff per three (actively used) checkouts is about the required level.

Mobile-RetailThe next level of self checkout is using BYOD mobile devices, where customers use a mobile shopping app-based barcode reader to scan their products assisted. Walmart is an early adopter of this and their research shows very strong customer acceptance.

Mobile-POS-SystemsMobile assisted checkout is a midpoint solution where you equip sales associates with mobile PoS tablets so that they can make checkout a part of the sales process.


You’ve gone to all the trouble and expense of earning a physical store visit, why would you ‘reward’ the customer by keeping them waiting? According to the study below, 13% of them will simply walk out.whyshoppersdontbuy