Location and context - retail store
let’s assume grocery store,
let’s assume one specific grocery store branch,
let’s assume it’s not a walkup grocery store, most customers drive in - only the grocery store around (we can’t send customers to other errands and then let them pick their stuff up later),
let’s assume that if customer is there, shopping - they want to use some of the ingredients ASAP
Deeper look at the UX
Complaints about long queues - how long? when? Long queue actually means long wait time to get through the register.
That journey includes -
- shop, look for a register with perceived shortest wait time, stand in line, wait for turn, put items on belt, pay, pack, get out
What is the standard acceptable wait time at a grocery store and how much over that are we?
Long is a perceived, assuming customers are greedy for their time, so as a target we need to provide what’s acceptable industry wise/psychologically as a target, unless our store’s competitive advantage is shortest (or no?) wait times.
So the goal is reduce queue time to what is common in other, higher satisfaction stores if we part of chain, or to what the industry standard is.
Deeper look at the problem
Long queues are an operational problem-
(people X items)/ staffed register = throughput -> customers checked out per/minute —> the faster, the shorter the queue wait time
—we are assuming that cashiers operate at highest performance when behind register
—we assume that customers can easily operate the self checkout registers
—we assume here that people stand in the right line
this implies solutions are either
reducing the number of people that need to go through the register
reducing the number of items customers check out
reducing the amount of time it takes to take a single customer through checkout - wrt to the journey
increasing the number of (staffed) registers
Need to take into account existing channels/shopping UX methods the store currently employs
- online shopping and delivery? - already exists? how is it going?
- online shopping and store pick up ? - already exists ? how is it going?
- shop in store - deliver home (check out handled async)? already exists ? how is it going? - this tho might not work for someone who already came to the store, because it creates an unnecessary delay between picking the items and actually using them.
———^ improving or introducing the above can be part of the solution ^—— the longer term one
———v below is where the problem is felt by customers this is where most short term solutions come from v—————
4. shop in store - check out through self checkout (how)
4.1 self checkout register?
short term - Can customers easily use them, are they efficient and fast enough ? if not, assign staff to help customers through until customers learn
long term - buy more self checkout stands - if the strategy is still to bring people into stores
4.2 mobile app checkout?
long term - does one exists today? if not this is a long term solution ?
medium erm - if exists, but not used, usability studies are required to understand why not used
assuming these don’t exists—all long term
4.3 dedicated device, just scan and leave long term option if preferred over mobile phone checkout/no digital strategy in sight
4.4 no checkout needed, no device -just pick and go? - long term, depends on store digital strategy and value proposition, most expensive option
5.0 shop in store - checkout at register with cashier
short term solutions will come from operational changes in store -
5.0.1 - is there any phase in the customer journey that could be addressed? look for a register with perceived shortest wait time, put items on belt, pay, pack
5.1 are customers standing in the right line? analyze baskets going through the register, if there are small ones between large ones, maybe we should just have someone guide customers to right register — measure impact on satisfaction
5.2 segment customers into small/large basket - are the complaints coming from either group? are small ones - we could adjust the small basket/large basket register ratios to fit the demographic according to time of day and majority of shopping times - measure impact on satisfaction
5.3 consolidate lines and create a single queue for a fast checkout register pool - instead of having individual lines for each - this also has a psychological effect as the overall queues appears to move faster - measure impact on satisfaction
In order to reduce queue length and improve customer experience during checkout, the short term strategy will be to address operational aspects of the registers and their staffing, with an understanding of the type of customers/shopping baskets that need the most attention - with each improvement (we will start with those that don’t require more staff, just different ops) - we will measure the improvement in performance and satisfaction and stop once we get to the defined performance goal.
For a long term strategy, depending on what channels already exist, we will focus on reducing the number of customers who need to be checked out individually - in accordance with the grocery store or chain’s digital and operational strategy. However, that should be done not as part of solving the current problem of long queueing, but as part of a larger operational strategy and should take into account the cost/benefit of each solution and it’s alignment with overall company goal (i.e. get more online purchases, get more customers into our stores etc, increase home delveries..)