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Tech evolution reducing queuing patience

Just less than six minutes is the average time UK consumers will stay in a shop queue before leaving, according to new research released today.

A survey of 1,344 people in the UK from software systems provider Omnico found that five minutes 54 seconds was the average time shoppers queued before abandoning their basket, and a leading UK psychologist suggests that the buy-on-demand culture in modern retail is having an impact on consumer attitudes.

Indeed, the study reported that 56% of Britons would be less likely to return to a store if they'd had a bad queuing experience in the past.

London-based chartered psychologist Mark Rackley said that the findings from Omnico bring to the fore the concept known as heuristics, which is the name given to 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," he explained.

"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 and 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."

British consumers have for a long time been labelled with the stereotype of being good at forming an orderly queue, but advancements in the technology space in recent years – such as contactless payments, mobile commerce and self-service checkouts – could be starting to change this tradition.

Anyone who was at Wimbledon this year for the annual tennis championships may disagree – after all, visitors were all issued with queuing etiquette guides – but there is no denying that instant gratification and fast service are becoming crucial goals for retailers as they look to meet the demands of the more empowered, time-poor shopper.

Omnico has worked with a number of high street retailers to help meet some of these demands, including Superdry and Next. Most recently, the solutions provider helped stationery retailer Paperchase introduce mobile point of sale (MPoS) technology in its stores, allowing staff to reduce queue lengths and customer waiting times.

In-store mCommerce is being used to varying degrees of success throughout the retail industry, with luxury fashion brand Burberry often put forward as a trailblazer in its use of tablet devices on the shop floor. It is technology that consumers seem keen to engage with and retail staff are increasingly comfortable using.

Omnico CEO Bill Henry said: "Retailers who focus on preventing abandoned baskets and customer walk-aways will see the compelling benefits to their bottom line.

"MPoS technology is an answer to this problem, as it can be deployed quickly and has a positive impact on retailers' shop floor 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."

Omnico Group