in queue merchandising    

Will You Win that $669.28 Back-to-School Budget?


The National Retail Federation (NRF) recently announced the results of their 2014 Back-to-School Survey which found the average family will spend $669.28 on apparel, shoes, supplies, and electronics for their children in grades K-12. Slow economic improvement is credited for this year’s 5% growth in back-to-school shopping over last year.

The question is, will your store win these sales?

As you entertain a range of parents, children, and teens during this back-to-school season there is one thing for sure: No sale is a sure thing if your checkout line fails to make the grade.

Here are some best practices to ensure that you get those back-to-school dollars from as many parents as possible:

Prepare ahead for longer wait times.

There will be Ninja Turtle lunch boxes and oodles of glue sticks and shiny new sneakers, but one thing those harried parents and disgruntled kids will remember about their back-to-school shopping experience is how easy it was to get through the checkout line.

One Idea: Cut down on customer wait times with queue additions like station lights or audio cues that direct customers to open registers and keep cashier productivity high.Continue Reading

Celebs Who Draw the Longest Lines


There are some celebrities who people believe are worth waiting in line for. It isn’t just teen stars that are causing all the fuss, nor is it just teens waiting in queues for a glimpse of the celeb they love. People of all ages are willing to do just about whatever it takes to get close to their favorite celebrities, even if it means standing in record-breaking lines.

Hillary Clinton

Nearly 1,000 people waited in line outside the Union Square Barnes & Noble in Manhattan to meet Hillary Clinton at her first book signing for her new memoir Hard Choices. Thank goodness the book release was in June 2014 so the people sleeping in beach chairs on the sidewalk overnight didn’t freeze, especially since this queue came with rules: no asking questions, no requests for Clinton to personalize her autograph, no requests to pose for photos or selfies, and no carrying anything that doesn’t fit in a pocket.


Interestingly enough, some Beyonce fans are asking for concert venues to bring back the physical queue where first-come-first-served is the rule to follow and there is a cap on the number of tickets you can purchase. People are quickly out of luck when they try to snag seats through the online queue, mostly because the majority of tickets go to promoters, sponsors, and other VIPs. In the UK, tickets to Beyonce’s summer 2013 tour saw 3 million fans applying for tickets online in just two hours but tickets to the 11 shows sold out in 15 minutes. And, at Manchester Arena, where people waited overnight in line, queues were shut down when gangs of thugs hijacked the queue.Continue Reading

The Effective Queue: A Psychological Perspective


In 1909, a Danish mathematician, statistician and engineer, Agner Krarup Erlang started an assignment that determined the queuing capacity of central telephone switches in Copenhagen, Denmark. His six years of research developed into what is called queuing theory and since then over 10,000 papers have been dedicated to the mathematical study of waiting lines which traditionally involves complex equations encompassing actual wait times and actual service times.

The psychological aspects of queuing weren’t notably addressed until New York City’s post World War II building boom. During this time period, high-rise buildings were being erected for living spaces as well as places of work. It wasn’t long before people found themselves facing rush hour at elevators the same as they did at buses and subways. Building owners began getting inundated with complaints of the waiting lines, but adding new elevator shafts to accommodate the influx of people during rush hour was simply not an option.

Soon, queue theorists stopped asking, “How do we reduce the waits?” and started asking, “How do we reduce the complaints about the waits?” The answer revealed itself: let’s entertain the waiting people!

The elevator dilemma was solved with the addition of floor to ceiling mirrors located right next to the elevators. Complaints dropped dramatically as people started discreetly looking at themselves and each other in the mirrors, occupying their time, and ultimately forgetting the wait at hand. This tactic is still used today with positive results.Continue Reading