Opinion: The right way to do in-queue merchandising

By Perry Kuklin, Lavi Industries

You already have their attention. Your audience, ready to buy something from you, is waiting. Waiting in line. Wrongly perceived as a necessary evil, the often "lost" space and time of a checkout line can easily be transformed into both an important revenue source and a happy diversion.

If customers are distracted as they wait, the perception of how long they wait decreases, and their overall satisfaction then increases. A 1989 MIT study confirms this human phenomenon. Coupled with the fact that 65 percent of retail sales are driven by impulse shopping, the line at checkout can be transformed from just another frustrating wait, into a source of increased customer ease and sales.

In-queue merchandising has the capability to:

  • Increase profit per square foot with impulse sales
  • Facilitate customer flow while keeping customers occupied
  • Decrease perceived wait times, and increase satisfaction

Planning your approach to in-queue merchandising

Decide your space and formation

The lanes need to be wide enough to accommodate people, merchandise, and even carts. The type and amount of your merchandise will obviously vary, depending on a single-line or multiple line queue setup, as well as your queue's width and structure.

Combine belts and merchandise racks

When selecting one of the many fixtures, merging the typical checkout line belts and stanchions with merchandising is highly effective and spatially efficient.


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Use merchandising displays

From impulse bowls attached right on the stanchions, to signage, display walls, racks, in-line tables, and hooks and shelves, the options are many and scalable to better present your selection of products.

Mark an entrance

Standard post-top signage and a belted stanchion marks the recognized entrance to the waiting line.

Make it scalable

Make ebb and flow organic, using retractable belts with merchandise also available on the shorter lines.

Employ in-queue signage

Help draw immediate attention to products while providing direction to those in the line. Digital signage is especially effective, keeping customers more engaged and entertained while more effectively promoting products on display.

Pitfalls to avoid

As always, there can be too much of a good thing. A few common pitfalls to avoid include:

Overdoing it

Whether piling merchandise too high, piling it on the queue turns in knock-over alley, or pinching customers with a line narrowed by too much "stuff," it's a fine line that takes some experimentation to find, but one that you don’t want to cross.

Neglecting the shortcut

During slower periods and shorter queues, make sure the merchandise is in the line, regardless of its length.

Overlooking the clue to the queue

It can look less like a line with merchandising in place. A belted stanchion and a post-top sign universally say, "Line forms here."

The important thing to remember is that people want to be entertained, and they want to spend money. While you've got them in line is a perfect time to do both.

Increases of impulse sales at checkout of 400 percent are possible with innovative approaches to in-line merchandising. Done thoughtfully, customers will leave happier, believing they spent less time in line while having spent more money doing it. Talk about a win-win.

Perry Kuklin is director of marketing and business development for Lavi Industries, a provider of public guidance and crowd control solutions.

Read more about merchandising.

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