Line Queuing - Engage The Customer To Increase Sales
By Bob Johns, associate editor
Most people don’t think about what they are doing while standing in line, but that is where Perry Kuklin, director of marketing with Lavi Industries, sees a great opportunity for retailers to enhance the customer experience and improve the bottom line. Lavi has been in what they call the “public guidance” business since 1979, and chances are you have been guided to the register by one of their stanchions or digital signs. Lavi prefers to use the term public guidance over crowd control because you are not strictly working with crowds in a retail environment. What you are really doing is having one final interaction with the customer before checkout by using a queue.
One of the main reasons to use queuing is to control and optimize the flow of customers through the checkout process. “Especially when dealing with retail foot traffic, keeping the customer experience enjoyable is a must,” Kuklin notes. Customers are expecting lines, but they are also expecting the lines to move. Keeping people directed to the next available associate is imperative to keeping the line moving. Nothing is more frustrating than seeing cashiers waiting for someone to come to the register when there is already a huge line.
Using stanchions to funnel the customers to a central point can keep the line moving and the customer feeling that the wait is shorter than it may actually be. Lines will be longer, but the single-line queue is proven to decrease average wait times compared to a multiple-line queue. According to Kuklin, using these stanchions can be a branding opportunity for the retailer to help reinforce it’s identity by having the name on the belts. Or, advertising can be added to the stanchion to promote specials, credit cards, loyalty programs, or customer service surveys.
Maximize Sales Through Merchandising And Engagement
Another way to guide the customer is by using a barrier system that consists of merchandising opportunities throughout. Rather than just standard stanchions, why not incorporate rigid systems that function as store fixtures. These can be stocked with clearance merchandise, impulse items, or seasonal merchandise that the customer can pick up on the way to the register. This can give a quick boost to sales while keeping the customer occupied while they are waiting. We have all picked up the lip gloss or candy bar while waiting in line that we would not have purchased otherwise. These items are usually high margin and can boost basket sizes considerably.
One of the most exciting advancements in line queuing is through the use of digital signage. Not only can you now visually and audibly direct customers to the next available register in a timely manner, but there is a dual revenue opportunity. First, a retailer can display its latest commercials, direct people to sales within the store, or promote upcoming events. Second, the retailer can partner with suppliers to promote products, and charge a fee for it. Or, along the same line, the retailer can partner with the supplier to promote the product through special incentives or pricing. Either way, the retailer comes out on top.
Kuklin says, “Digital signage in the queue is not just about money, though. Creating powerful media messages which engage the customer in the queue can lead to as much as a 400% increase in impulse sales at checkout. Additionally, the perceived wait time can drop by up to 40%, mainly because the customer is involved in watching the programming message.” It is very similar to telling your spouse to meet you outside in five minutes when they are in the middle of watching a show. Twenty minutes later you are back inside to get them, meanwhile they feel like less than five minutes have passed. Engagement is the key. Retailers need to be creative when deciding how they will keep the customer engaged during the queue process, whether it is through proper merchandising in the lines, or through custom messaging and digital signage. No solution is right or wrong, but executing the deployment properly can be the key to maximizing sales and keeping the customer happy.