Why do people walk out of a store without buying anything?


We have been having a very interesting discussion about line queues at the Marketing Director’s Support Group on Linkedin.com. Malcolm Wicks, the Marketing Director at Pierhouse Business Solutions posed the question, “Why do people walk bout of a store without buying anything?”

I have to admit, only once did I walked out of a store in frustration and it had everything to do with waiting in line at the checkout counter.  I likely would not have even had to wait long, but I was in a hurry and the poor girl at the check out was struggling over some glitch with the register.  I was a bit pressed for time, so I set my items down on the shelf and walked out.  I had some small feelings of guilt but got over it.

This lead to a discussion on line queues in general.  Walmart is working on a new “Scan & Go” system what will make the checkout very easy.  Right now it is in select stores.  This is probably the most innovative self checkout system I have seen.  It will still require shoppers to enter a queue, but the check out queue’s speed and efficiency will be greatly increased.

[two_third]The survey by Peirhouse is showing 20% of customers will leave a store if the line is to long.  There also seems to be a three strike mentality.  If a shopper encounters three negative experiences close together they may end up banning the chain from their shopping routine.  Walmart estimates the life time value of a customer can be $200,000 [1].  So each customer gone is a significant loss to revenue.  With that knowledge, you can see why Walmart is concerned with optimizing the checkout procedure.[/two_third][one_third_last]

20% of shoppers will leave a store if the line is to long


The debate we were having in the forum was the effectiveness of a single line queue.  My stance is they will greatly increase the efficiency of the checkout process.  Malcolm’s stance was to try and eliminate an in store queue altogether.

In my opinion, eliminating a checkout queue altogether would greatly reduce a store’s overall impulse purchases.  If stores would work more toward optimizing the line queue and give customers something to do while waiting (like look at more merchandise) that would not only reduce the actual and perceived wait times, but also increase overall store revenues.

[box][1] Successful Store Execution – A Holistic Approach, Infosys 2011[/box]