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Annoying waiting lines have always been a burden for us. And we’re not talking just about the customers and the time they’ve lost waiting there.
Humanity is familiar with the struggle of queuing from its very history. Since our kind has started making a trade – whether it was barter or the current modern form of commerce as we know it. What’s the most significant difference though?
Our fellows back in the day didn’t have any tools which would allow them to quantify the consequences of long waiting times.
Even if the merchants of the past knew that long queueing hurt customers’ incentives to stay in the line and buy the product, customers had no other option but to stay there regardless of the time they spent waiting. When there is no sufficient amount of the essential goods the people strive for, at relatively low prices, people have no other choice than to wait. Even if it means tens of minutes or maybe hours.
Sliding forward to more recent times, for instance, the European countries which suffered communist oppression right after the end of WW2 tasted the feel of absurdly long waiting lines and severe shortages for the necessities, due to the centrally-planned economy. However, as there was practically none market competition, state-controlled shops suffered no losses as people couldn’t turn to any other merchant with better availability or overall service.
The situation in the more developed countries was very different. Mainly because of a market-driven economy and the following existence of competition between various retailers. When customers have a choice, they will always try to look out for a better deal on the market. The same comes with queueing – if they repeatedly suffer unpleasant shopping experience, they most like turn to competition.
Retailers tried to combat long waiting times back then but were not as successful in planning how to do it effectively.
The situation has dramatically changed thanks to rapid technological advancement. Not only that retailers now can fully quantify and analyze the overall flow in their shops, but based on the collected data, it’s much easier to come up with an effective solution. You can think of the most disruptive innovations such as checkout-free solutions like the one Amazon has come up with, or intelligent demographics sensors designed to monitor flow in the store and collect data.
Nowadays, retailers realize the negative consequences of queueing more than ever – mainly because of the possibilities which modern technological solutions brought to them.
The fact that people despise long waiting times is quite universal. It doesn’t matter if they have to wait for the meal in a restaurant, or at checkout in a supermarket.
According to the survey from 2014, respondents stated that they are willing to wait no more than 14 minutes before being served. We may argue that people are even more impatient today. Then it makes the struggle of waiting even more urgent to address. Another case revealed that some businesses lost striking 75% of customers because of long waiting times. When customers leave a store frustrated because of that, it’s very likely they will not show up anytime soon.
That’s also why we at Pygmalios are working very hard to introduce our revamped Queue 2.0 module, which will come up with many significant improvements.
Customers by the time being continuously strive more and more for instant gratification. We may discuss if it’s something to celebrate or not, but who doesn’t want to be served as soon as possible? The reality is as it is, and retailers have no choice but to adapt.