Creating an express checkout lane for special events

20Mar12

Last Saturday, the city hosted a series of ridiculous events for St. Patrick’s day. As a result, there were thousands of extra people lumbering through downtown and generally acting like idiots. No problem, I figured: I would just avoid going where those people would likely congregate, such as bars and restaurants.

So when I went across the street to pick up some prescriptions at the pharmacy, I was a little surprised to see huge lines of people wearing green and holding cases of beer. Apparently, the most popular time to get ready for the parade was 15 minutes before it started. I managed to squeeze through the crowd and pick up my items. But it surely wouldn’t have been a fun experience for anyone who actually wanted to buy some regular food items, like milk or cereal.

Watching the long lines at the store made me realize that there’s an easy way to address the problem. If you’re the type of store that doesn’t normally have an express checkout lane, then it makes sense to designate one or more express lanes during any special events that attract huge numbers of people. The express lane could either be used to handle those with only a few items, or it could be used to funnel everyone who is making purchases in a given category, like beer and wine. Or, you could make a special line for people who are members of your loyalty program, which probably skews towards regular, repeat customers. No matter which method you choose, the express lane approach should result in faster transaction times for everyone during special events, which is ultimately a good thing for random drop-ins and regular shoppers alike.



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