Retailers Warned: Customers Hate Queuing

As the pace of life seems to increase with, for instance, information being demanded with ever more speed, haste is reaching into the realm of retail customers.

Research from Barclays and Barclaycard shows that, far from being a nation of politely queuing shoppers, Brits are becoming increasingly impatient with queues in the retail environment.

The survey of 2000 shoppers indicates that 20% of those polled will wait no more than two minutes to be served and that a shocking 68% of shoppers will drop their shopping and walk out if they are not served in good time. 51% of those questioned said they will not even enter a store of they see queues of people waiting to be served.

The biggest gripes stated with British shoppers’ queuing ordeals were not just the time spent waiting but the cause of the delays, mainly retailers being short-staffed (not enough staff to deal with such long queues of customers), sales assistants spending too long chatting with customers and shoppers "fiddling around" looking for change.

Brian Cunnington, Head of Debit Cards, UK Retail Banking at Barclays said:

“The research shows that, particularly for small ticket items, consumers are no longer prepared to wait in line. They know they can go to another shop and purchase what they need more quickly”

Some retailers, rather than find adequate solutions to deal with long queues have, apparently, been shifting the positions of tills in order to hide queues.

Stuart Neal, Head of UK Payment Acceptance at Barclaycard, commented:

“While retailers appear to be aware that even their most loyal customers are not prepared to wait in line any more, hiding the evidence of queues is not the way to fix the problem. Consumers have increasingly busy lives and retailers must be prepared to fit in with them by offering innovative solutions to speed up transactions.”

Smaller retailers in particular need to be careful not to lose customers due to queues. According to Bob Jarrett, Professional Services Director of the British Shops and Stores Association:

“Smaller shops know they can’t afford to lose sales to a competitor, particularly a large retailer. Customer service is paramount, as they can’t compete on price.”

“Most small shops manage their customer service well already, but retailers should make sure customers get seen within acceptable time limits, and that they are friendly enough to ensure customers walk out the door smiling.”

“If they are short-staffed, they should make sure they acknowledge the customer, and tell them honestly that they are short-staffed but they will get to them as soon as they can. If customers feel ignored, they are more likely to walk out.”

As Stuart Neal of Barclaycard stated, innovative new transactional methods may be needed, and contactless payment systems would reduce the need for entering pin numbers or fumbling around for cash. Larger innovative retailers such as the Co-operative, Little Chef, Subway and Pret a Manger are installing contactless payment systems in order to reduce queue times.

However, for the many smaller retailers out there, the added expense of new, contactless payment systems may not be viable so an awareness of the issues will go a long way to appease the country’s ever more impatient shoppers.

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