Helping customers find the nearest checkout area


I took a rare trip to a department store last weekend to pick up a few things. As always, I found it exceedingly difficult to locate the desired items, even with a printout from the store’s website in hand. However, that’s sort of unavoidable in stores with large floor plates and multiple floors per department.

During my visit, I noticed another inefficiency: the checkout desks are located in seemingly random places throughout the store, and there’s no rhyme or reason to which ones are staffed at any given time. I managed to find a sales rep who helped complete my purchase at a nearby register, but I can easily see how this process could involve a lot of wandering and frustration for the typical customer.

As it turns out, grocery stores and big box retailers have already solved this problem. They simply add a light or other visual indicator mounted high above each checkout lane, enabling customers to quickly spot the nearest open checkout area. By adopting a similar approach, department stores and other retailers that employ a decentralized checkout design would make it easier for shoppers to locate a nearby checkout area. In turn, abandonment rates should improve significantly, and more customers will associate the store with an efficient shopping experience.