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How we're still being tricked into waiting in line

Bonnie Milam May 11, 2023 10:00:00 AM
waiting in line

According to a recent study commissioned by Zippin, 53% of shoppers have left a store without their purchase because of long checkout lines. Persistent labor shortages in retail have only exacerbated this problem. Hiring more cashiers is proving increasingly difficult, so many retailers are turning to technology to address this problem. 

The most prevalent alternative to traditional checkouts is the self-checkout. While shoppers have varied opinions about this technology, 66% choose self-checkout because they believe it’s faster. It turns out, this is a misconception that’s costing people to lose valuable time in their day. Self-checkout is actually slower. It all comes down to the psychology of queuing and how we perceive the passage of time while we wait. This fascinating study uncovers some of the ways we can be tricked into thinking we’re not waiting in line:

  • Mirrors installed near elevators are designed to distract us from how long it takes for the next one to arrive
  • Baggage claims located as far as possible from arriving gates force us to walk 15+ minutes before realizing we’re waiting for our luggage
  • Occupied time feels shorter than unoccupied time, so being forced to physically scan purchases makes the time feel shorter 

I’ve been aware of the mirror and baggage claim “tricks” for a while now. But I hadn’t considered how the concept of occupied versus unoccupied waiting times impact our daily lives. Two-thirds of shoppers choose the slower self-checkout option because they perceive occupied time as being shorter. In reality, they’re waiting longer, which leaves to unhappy customers, and potentially costing retailers $555 billion in lost revenue. 

It’s time for retailers to stop trying to make us think shopping is faster and instead invest in actually making shopping faster. Checkout-free technology is an effective solution to this problem. Zippin-powered stores have seen transaction times reduced by 58%, with shopping trips taking as little as 30 seconds. With checkout-free, shoppers can get what they want and zip out of the store quickly with no waiting, no friction, and no tricks. 

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