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For customers, the waiting is the hardest part

Shoppers willing to switch stores for faster checkout, study shows

A new study from Forrester Research and Digimarc finds that the checkout experience and the length of the checkout line are very important to shoppers — and can influence the shopping decisions of the almost 40% of shoppers who are not loyal to a single grocery location.

The study revealed three of the most crucial factors influencing a shopper’s decision: While the first two — price and location — were a given, the strong showing of checkout experience was a surprise. An even 50% of survey respondents cited checkout experience as “very important” and another 35% cited “important.” According to the report, “While it’s no surprise that customers don’t want to wait in long lines and have slow checkout processes, the extent to which they care might surprise many retailers.”

Asked the question “How satisfied are you with each of the following parts of your shopping experience?” only 23% of respondents answered “length of lines,” making it the aspect of shopping with which they were least satisfied — surprisingly, ranked even lower than “price.”

“Shoppers today have less time than ever to get their grocery shopping done, and they want it to be a fast and easy experience,” according to the report, an observation borne out of the finding that long lines are the most common reason for shopping trip abandonment. Over half of shoppers are willing to spend less in a store, or even walk away entirely, to avoid a slow checkout.

The risk to retailers goes beyond a one-time loss due to abandonment. Three-quarters of shoppers do not exclusively shop at any single grocery store, indicating that shoppers will not hesitate to bring their business to a competitor for a better checkout experience. Long lines and poor checkout experience are the third highest reason shoppers would go elsewhere — after location and price — cited by 18% of respondents who were asked “What factor of the shopping experience would prompt you to shop elsewhere for your groceries?”

The survey shows that shoppers place a high level of importance on fast checkout, making improvements in speed an important opportunity for retailers ready to invest. Retailers that prioritize checkout efficiency aren’t only positioned to satisfy customers, but also to attract new shoppers who aren't willing to wait in long lines.

The report concluded, “Forrester forecasts that over the next five years, online grocery shopping will nearly double, growing from $185 billion in 2018 to $334 billion in 2022. To compete with the speed and convenience of online shopping, retailers must make the in-store experience better. Surveyed consumers say that means faster checkout, among other amenities.

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