What does Aldi tell us about queuing?

1 min read
Apr 20, 2015

With the recent news that Aldi has overtaken Waitrose as the UK’s sixth largest supermarket, there’s been a lot mentioned in the business press about their business model, the look and feel of the stores and specifically about the product ranges they sell. But, one aspect that’s been largely ignored is also one of the most important, the different queuing experience that Aldi, and other discount supermarkets offer.

Supermarket_1_230_315For the discount retailers, getting this right is of even more importance than to the other large supermarkets, because it will probably be the only time during your visit where you will directly interact with store staff. Discount supermarkets don’t operate a deli, nor do they have a dedicated customer services desk, so the checkouts are usually the retailer’s one opportunity to create positive human interactions between staff and customers. Couple this with the fact they tend to have fewer checkouts open at any one time, and this could spell disaster.

In our time-poor modern world, customers would often rather take their business elsewhere than wait in long lines to be served, and the discounters have strategies to help increase efficiency at the tills. Products often have the barcode printed on them in multiple places, saving valuable seconds for each item being scanned, as the staff don’t have to search for which part of the packaging to scan. The discounters also refill the trolley rather than letting shoppers bag their purchase at the checkout, meaning their goods can be put through much faster.

Technology can also assist stores in deploying staff at the right time to keep queue times down to a minimum, and are being rolled out by many of the largest supermarkets in the world to increase customer satisfaction, and optimise labour usage.

Will other supermarkets follow the discounter’s lead and change to a more functional, time efficient method of checkout operations, or try to offer other ways of enticing customers back?

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