Disruptive in-queue merchandising: Sunglasses in the checkout line

By Bill Vetter

Today’s savvy retailers are maximizing their floor space by investing in smart solutions such as in-queue merchandising, which use modular systems that help improve customer flow and increase sales of display merchandise at the checkout line.

What many retailers haven’t considered, however, is that some types of display merchandise have the potential to cause havoc at the queue. Something as innocuous as a bin with sunglasses in the checkout line can cause all kinds of avoidable delays. Think about it -- when that customer picks up a pair of “aviators,” he or she will inevitably look for a mirror, leaving their spot on line, and/or cause an unnecessary hold up by trying on several different pairs. To avoid this type of disruption and increase efficiency, in-queue merchandising requires management. This article examines the design, customization and technology aspects behind implementing an in-queue management system and shares customer journey tips for maximizing floor space, increasing margins and ensuring your customers come back for more.

When implementing an in-queue queue management system, consider the following three factors:

1. Design: What type of checkout queue is best for your store? Consider engaging a queue-management expert to help you identify where the checkout queue should be located and if it should be a lane-per-lane checkout, virtual queue or single-lane queue. Working together with an expert can provide you with improved traffic flow and the ability to help you guide customers toward the right featured products or marketing materials without creating a disturbance in the aisle. And in-queue management solutions can be designed regardless of space constraints.

2. Customization: With merchandising add-ons uniquely designed for the store, queue-management experts can bring together product combinations that control crowds while also increasing impulse purchases, moving sale items, and improving the store’s revenues per square foot. For example, modular merchandising panels and product displays built into the crowd-control barriers can be designed to meet any retailers’ needs and add clarity and direction to their merchandising, helping customers navigate more easily and efficiently.

3. Technology: As a central element of the checkout queue, technology plays many roles. Electronic call forward systems speed customer flow by directing the person at the head of the line to the next available cashier. Electronic call forwarding keeps customers advised of transaction speed by visibly providing the current wait time. This gives customers a sense of control by letting them know exactly when they will be accommodated. Electronic queue ticketing allows multiple transaction profiles to be handled fairly and equitably for all waiting customers. These technologies assure customers that the retailer understands their time is precious and they are indeed a priority. Much better than hearing a bellicose salesperson scream, “Next!”

A well-designed checkout queue produces nearly immediate ROI. When the checkout queue is customized to meet a retailer’s needs and supported by technology, you can expect to realize:

Increased revenues: A well-designed queue will increase revenues per square foot by turning the dead space of the queue line into a revenue-generating area. Retailers can experience a 10% increase in in-line impulse buys with crowd control merchandising panels, add-on product displays and strategically placed (and carefully selected) items near and within the checkout queue.

Customer satisfaction: A better organized checkout queue with neat, organized aisles and the right in-queue merchandising items provides a fair and equitable “first come, first served” process that can generate up to a 94% customer approval rating. Checkout queues complete with electronic call-forward technologies allow retailers to better connect with their customers. The customers are more aware of their wait time and the pace at which the line is moving. Including signage and electronic displays communicates corporate messaging, store information and sales.

Reduced walk-aways: Properly designed checkout queues are proven to reduce customer walk-aways by as much as 90%. When customers witness the efficiency of a checkout queue they are less likely to walk away. These customers leave the store satisfied with their shopping experience and are eager to return.

Retailers implementing queue management and non-disruptive in-queue merchandising are moving customers through the checkout queue more efficiently and are increasing impulse purchasing behavior. Customers are happier and are spending more. And with a better shopping experience, they just might become customers for life.

Bill Vetter is general manager of Lawrence, A Tensator Group Co.

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