Wait times at the "express" lanes are roughly the same as other lanes. While the transactions are faster, the lines are longer.
Play it Fair
People are willing to wait longer if they perceive that they will be helped in the order they got into line. Constant jockeying for position frustrates customers.
Keep it Moving
If one register backs up due to a difficult transaction, reroute the line. Waiting is easier if people perceive they are closer to their goal. Despite long lines for rides, Disney builds excitement in line by allowing people to see a slice of the action. Signage tells those in line how far they’ve come and how far they have to go.
Offer Something to do
Shoppers will perceive a shorter wait and a more enjoyable experience if they have the opportunity to do any of the following activities: browse additional merchandise, look at a video screen presentation (even if it is entirely promotional), peruse printed materials, fill out a survey, enter a sweepstakes or sample new products.
Approximately 49 percent of people buy something while in the supermarket line. Typically, shoppers are drawn more to magazine tabloids than to gum, candy and other trinkets. Only 15 percent of people in line just wait.
Give Good Information
An accurate estimate of the wait time makes shoppers more comfortable, and more willing to wait. This is also a good opportunity to educate customers about how to make the line move faster. In airports, the TSA places signs to tell travelers to take off their shoes, empty their pockets, take out their computers, and have their boarding passes ready. IKEA suggests customers place their scanning labels face forward on the belt to help the clerk scan merchandise more quickly.
Focus on the Transaction
At a busy cash wrap station, all other activities should be redirected to other locations, such as a separate area for returns and for applying for a store credit card.
One of the worst-case scenarios was an apparel store that informed shoppers at the cash wrap that if they purchased three items, they would receive a free belt. Shoppers would then interrupt their transaction, go to the belt fixture and choose their free belt. Imagine the frustration of the next customer in line.