Hands up, who likes queues?
Let's talk about queuing.
No-one really likes waiting in a queue, but in my travels, I have noticed that some nationalities are better at it than others - the Brits seem to take pride in their well-defined lines; whereas the Italians practice a 'survival of the fittest' approach; and in my country of Sweden we have made queueing into an art form.
But queues, like death and taxes, are part of the inevitability of life. What is interesting though is that when I meet store owners and managers and ask them what their main challenges are, topics such as theft and that lovely euphemism "inventory shrinkage" are the first to come up. These obviously eat into their profits, but don't really address a simple customer frustration - standing in line.
Many retailers use surveillance cameras to monitor both customers and staff. But not everyone realizes that once you've got those cameras installed, they can be used for so much more - especially to help reduce the time spent queueing (even if you could do a little workout).
With IP cameras, the video feed can be used by many different departments - not just store security. I have seen managers develop better layouts using really cool heat maps and dwell time applications that measure how long customers are spending in-store. That way, they can properly work out if new in-store services like cookery classes, coffee shops or personal clothes-fitting are having a genuine impact on the bottom line or not.
Given that queues are often one reason that customers shift from purchasing in-store to buying online, actively managing queues is vital for the success of retailers. I know from personal experience that if a store can quickly open a new till to relieve the queuing pressure, then everyone, including the staff, feel less stressed - even us well-behaved Swedes! And if I go into a store and see long queues, then I'm much more likely to just grab the essentials and get out as quickly as possible. But if not, then I know I can take my time to leisurely wander through the aisles and probably pick up a few things I might not have thought of before (damn you, chocolate-covered pretzels!). The clever thing is that with networked IP cameras installed, retailers don't need lots of supervisors on the shop-floor. Instead they can monitor those frustrating queues remotely and maximize the staff they have available.
A recent survey carried out by the Center for Retail Research (commissioned by Axis) shows that queue management is now the number one business intelligence application retailers are interested in.
I can't promise there won't be any queues - but hopefully it will be worth the wait!