Queuing shoppers: gone in six minutes
Friday September 13 2013
New study finds 5 minutes 54 seconds is average queue time tolerated by shoppers before they abandon basket
On average Brits will wait just under six minutes in a shop queue before they walk out according to a survey conducted by retail technology provider Omnico as part of an investigation into the effect of queues on retail businesses.
The survey also found that over half (56%) of Britons would be less likely to return to a store if they’d had a bad queuing experience, with men more likely than women to hold a bad queuing experience against a store (58% versus 55% respectively).
Regional differences among consumers
The results come from a survey of 1,344 UK consumers to find out how patient people in Britain are when it comes to queuing in store. It revealed that, among major towns and cities in the UK, the least patient is Plymouth, with locals only willing to wait an average of 4 minutes 55 seconds before leaving the store. Liverpool is the most patient city in the UK with shoppers willing to wait 6 minutes 47 seconds. Londoners are the fourth most impatient, only willing to wait 5 minutes 44 seconds.
Only 19% of people said that they would never abandon their basket regardless of how long they’d been waiting in a queue. Conversely, 16% refuse to wait more than three minutes before walking out.
On average younger people queue for longer periods of time than older people, with shoppers aged 16-24 willing to wait for up to 6 minutes 9 seconds, whilst shoppers aged 55+ are only prepared to wait for 5 minutes 46 seconds. However, despite the younger generation being more willing to wait longer, they are the most likely group to be badly affected by a queuing experience with 59% saying they wouldn’t return to a store as a result.
Psychological effect of queuing
Mark Rackley, a chartered psychologist commented: “These findings from Omnico reflect a concept known as 'heuristics,' which is decision making based on past experience. When it comes to queuing, people use previous experiences to decide whether they will stay in the queue or leave it.
"In today's society when people can buy things within a matter of a few clicks or swipes, without having to wait, they may use a heuristic decision, conclude that queuing is inconvenient and thus choose to walk-away. Based on this behaviour and as people increasingly experience instantaneous payment, queuing tolerance levels are likely to continue to decrease.”
Bill Henry, Omnico chief executive, said: “Queuing is a pet hate of many people in the UK and our research revealed the detrimental impact it has on retailers, both in terms of abandoned baskets and long term loyalty. Retailers who focus on preventing abandoned baskets and customer walk-aways will see the compelling benefits to their bottom line.”
Mobile queue-busting offers solution
Henry added that mobile point-of-sale (PoS) technology is an answer to this problem, as it can be deployed quickly and has a positive impact on retailers’ shopfloor estate, offering space saving opportunity as well as reduced capital expenditure. "It frees sales assistants up to move around the store and answer questions or move to areas that are busiest,” he added.
Omnico delivers queue-busting mobile PoS technology with leading retailers, such as Paperchase. The stationary retailer recently deployed mobile tills that allow staff to reduce queue lengths and duration, ensuring that time-poor customers get enough time to browse and complete their purchases.
Paperchase has a broad range of customer store types across their portfolios that manage differing footfalls. These range from large flagship stores to smaller outlets in busy train stations. Operating in multiple locations means that the retailers's stores are dealing with a range of different shoppers with varying attitudes on queuing. With the deployment of mobile tills on the shopfloor, these mobile sales staff can effectively bust queues during busy periods in the trading cycle, improving shopper satisfaction.