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How Queue Management Is Essential For Retail Success

It used to be one of our great British traits. But now shoppers are falling out of love with queuing and recent research shows only 41 per cent of us would be prepared to join the back of a long queue.

That means if you haven’t got enough tills open, or your snake queue is curling its way up the aisles, more than half of British shoppers will turn on their heels and go elsewhere, which according to a survey by YouGov, equates to 20.65 million missed sales opportunities every year.

For some value end fashion retailing, the price of goods in your basket might not even justify the time spent queuing. So if you don’t know how long your customers are waiting or their attitude (and consequently their behaviour) to queuing, it can be a key differentiator in where they finally decide to make their purchase.

“Customers are more time constrained, increasingly impatient and expect to be served quicker than they are currently,” says Tim Denison, Director of Intelligence at Ipsos Retail Performance. “Even with clicks, the amount of people that get frustrated going through the Internet process for a transaction online is on the rise. So queuing isn’t just about the fight against the Internet, it is drawing a battleground on the high street too.”

What Queue Management solutions are major retailers using?

The smart retailers have already upped their game. Tesco’s kicked it off with its One-in-Front scheme. Working with queue busting ‘look down’ camera technology, developed by Ipsos Retail Performance’s technology partner Irisys, where the camera system has a warning device to tell shop managers when to open up another till.

The technology is accurate but dependent on the store manager actually being there to receive the data and act on it. More recently Apple got it right by equipping its staff with mobile tablets – able to take transactions anywhere in the store – a significant but costly investment.

Both these advances are reactionary and looking for solutions when a queue has already formed. The future or Holy Grail of queuing says Ipsos Retail Performance, is to master improved queue management.

“We are developing technology which dovetails with current queuing solutions,” says Tim. “If you monitor the number of people into a supermarket and then have an algorithm that gives you a good indication of how long they will be in the store before they reach the check out, you can get advanced warning. This helps with staffing so that people can be taken off of the shop floor and put on the cash desk at the precise moment as needed.”

Other queuing solutions already being trialed include auto tills and honesty boxes, but Ipsos Retail Performance has found there is still some way to go into integrating these new queuing solutions into the shopper psyche. ‘People are still nervous if they’re not going to a cash desk and following the routine they have been programmed to follow,’ continues Tim.

As we see a greater pressure on our time and our insatiable demand for everything to be faster, quicker and better, the shopper is ready to be reprogrammed and retailers need to be ready to show them the way.

Please visit Ipsos’s Queue Management Solutions page for more information.