How the Science of Queuing Can Affect How You Design Your Point of Sale

It’s no secret that Christmas queues at New Zealand stores are one of the biggest turn-offs for shoppers. And just as customers get wound up as they waste time while they wait to reach the cashier, so retailers can see their good will, loyalty, and potential spend go up in smoke. But there is plenty of research around queuing that can help stores design their layouts better, make the most of their retail display cabinets and point of sale displays, and keep their customers happy.

1. Customers with full shopping trolleys move faster than small baskets:
It might seem strange but research has revealed that the average amount of time it takes to greet, pay, say goodbye and move out of the point of sale area is 41 seconds per person while the average time it takes to ring up an item is 3 seconds. This means that one person with 100 items takes 341 seconds – just short of six minutes, while a queue of four people with 20 items each (that’s 20 fewer than the first person) will actually take 404 seconds – more than a minute longer. Retailers who understand this can find ways to limit the time taken at point of sale for shoppers with baskets to help queues move faster, while also ensuring enough variety of lanes for shoppers with trolleys or baskets.

2. Single line – multiple check-outs:
Although studies have shown very few customers ever join this type of single-file queue, they are far faster than lots of parallel lines. This efficiency does come at a cost, though, for the retailer who has to find space to accommodate a long, thin line – but, if successfully applied, it offers the fastest route to handling the largest number of shoppers.

3. Know your rights (and lefts):
Research has shown that right-handed people tend to join queues to their right which means that, because there are far more of them, queues on the left tend to be shorter and faster. In order to even out this natural discrepancy, retailers can make point of sale displays on left-side queues more attractive or have more of the right-handed ones.

Customer with basket while shopping in supermarket

4. Tough customers:
Nothing slows down queues like people finding it difficult to pay, or chatting to the cashier, or who have items that can’t be scanned (such as produce), or who want information as well as a check-out. Retailers who divide their lines according to different types of product, or who have designated help-desks or information posts around the store can help cut their queues considerably.

5. Don’t let POS displays block cashiers’ views:
One study discovered that cashiers who can’t see the end of their queue don’t work as fast as ones who can see how they are able to keep their line from getting too long.

6. Keep your products well-labelled and displayed:
By having bar codes easy to find, having clothes displayed off their hangers for purchase, and by having information freely available in store, you’re going to cut down the time it takes for customers to move through the point of sale area.


7. Fairness usually trumps fastness:
Many studies have found that what irks shoppers more than waiting in line, is seeing others who arrived after them served before them. And even though most people overestimate the amount of time they spend in a queue, they are willing to wait much longer to avoid the unfairness of having some people served faster than others. The message to retailers is to therefore strike the right balance in their queues – at serveries you can take a number, at the cashout you can create a single line feeding to multiple cashiers. In all queues you can offer a mix of information and potential purchases that keep customers engaged, rather than having them keep tabs on how their line is moving in relation to others.

Mills Display is expert in creating the right custom solution or off-the-shelf display products for point of sale as well as customer control products such as barriers and stands. For more information, download a catalogue, email us or talk to one of our salespeople on Live Chat.

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Good News About the Future of Retail

There’s Still Space for Displays and Shops

Two new pieces of research have revealed key information both about the future of shops but also the next generation of shoppers. And, despite the increased interest in online stores, the good news for bricks and mortar businesses is that retail display is still very much at the heart of how people like to spend their hard-earned cash. Both studies were carried out by Retail Perceptions which has spent 25 years investigating insights from shoppers on the trends affecting retailers and manufacturers.

The first study looked at “the next generation of retail” by asking more than 2000 teenagers – or Gen Z – how and why they shopped and what they looked for in the retail experience. And, although you might assume that this connected generation would prefer the virtual world in which to shop, they were surprisingly switched on to the in-store experience. “Generation Z is constantly connected to technology, which retailers may find intimidating to overcome when it comes to in-store engagement,” said Interactions President Bharat Rupani. “However, our study found that this group is longing for retailers to provide an engaging in-store experience. In fact, when given the choice, over 64% prefer shopping in-store versus online.”

The main features that these teens looked for in a shop were:

• Cleanliness
• Friendly and clued-up staff
• A “positive checkout experience”

Male Sales Assistant At Checkout Of Clothing Store With Customers

Other key findings from the report include:

• 89% of Gen Z are very price-conscious
• 62% would rather spend money on experiences as opposed to material items
• 81% would change brands if they found better quality elsewhere
• 75% check a store’s app for special offers before making a purchase and 75% prefer retailers that accept mobile payments

The main message to retailers is that the next generation of shopper is not going to dump the high street, mall or edge-of-town shopping centre any time soon – but that doesn’t mean that you’re not going to have to try a little harder to land their custom. The main way you can do this is by having a strong social media presence that pushes promos and offers, and then continuing that interaction in-store with demonstrations, tastings and a strong, informed workforce. Interactions second study looked at the “impact of augmented reality on retail”, and, again, this didn’t so much sound a death knell for bricks-and-mortar stores, rather it offered a strong indication that retailers, retail displays and point of sale will have to adapt the way they work to make the most of new technology.

Augmented reality offers customers a way to experience products before they purchase them – in the case of clothing, they might be able to see how they look wearing it, or the same item in different colour or style; for tech items, they can see demonstrations; and for foodstuffs, they can see how ingredients might work together. It can also help retailers push special promotions and deals.
“It’s not surprising that 61 percent of respondents reported that augmented reality has already changed where they decide to shop,” said Bharat Rupani. “AR is reshaping the way shoppers experience and engage with retailers. We are seeing even the most traditional brands start to include this experiential element in stores, largely driven by customer interest.”

Shot of a shopper making a payment in a boutiquehttp://

Key findings from the report included:

• 55% said AR made shopping fun
• 45% said it saved them time
• 68% would spend more time at a store if they could shop with AR
• 40% would pay more for an item if they could experience it via AR
• 72% had bought something they hadn’t planned to buy because of AR

Although AR is yet to make a huge splash in New Zealand, it is very much on the horizon and retailers need to work out how their store’s design and display units can be adapted to make the most of such useful technology. What is clear from these pieces of research is that, more than ever, customers are demanding more from their in-store experience, and the way retailers show off and offer information about their products is vital to getting them to make purchases.

Mills Display can help your business find the right custom solution or off-the-shelf display products to be prepared for the next generation of shoppers. For more information, download a catalogue, email us or talk to one of our salespeople on Live Chat.

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