Since a few years some retailers or even single stores have tried the single waiting line for their customers. The principle is to keep a single waiting line, in general parallel to the cash line itself, and to have a screen steering the customer automatically toward the next free till.
This has been used for many years in administrations and you probably have experienced it in the airport whenever you needed to check in.
Regarding retailers, the situation varies depending on the countries. In Spain Carrefour seems to use both the self check-out and the unique line in all its hypermarket since quite some years while in France it seems that the “test” process takes much more time. Kiabi has it without any screen (the airport model) while Decathlon is testing it in some stores (like in Casablanca).
The tests in principle show the following results:
- Customer perception of waiting time reduced by being constantly moving.
In the case of “incident”, the impact is spread over all the open tills and is not only impacting the customers just after the “incident”. This takes away the “which till will be the quickest?”, a stressing choice for the customers.
- For the co-workers the “pressure” of the waiting line is taken away and in particular the stress of having to solve an “incident”.
- The customer can be “exposed” to more offers during his queuing process as the line is longer (but quicker).
- Less risk of “unpaid” connected to customer/co-worker “agreement.
- The customer is sent to an available till with the name of the cashier (humanisation).
I also saw some important reduction of leftover before cash line but that can be specific to the type of retail.
- The first impression of the long queue.
- The productivity could suffer if the “pressure” effect is taken away from the co-workers and therefore a better planning and adaptation is needed.
- The customer cannot choose its favourite cashier.
It seems that the benefits largely compensate the few risks and I don’t remember any Hypermarket that went back to the “old” system after testing it.
A cash line blog (in Spanish)
The retail magazine LSA was already presenting the benefit of the unique line in October 2013… So why is this queuing system not generalised as it seems to convince both retailers and customers?