Have you noticed that instead of individual waiting lines, more stores are using one line technology? That is, you stand in one line and then go to whatever available register is free when you get to the front of the line?
I love it. It is clearly faster and more fair to everyone. Why am I writing about this? Technology isn’t just computer parts, but also ways of thinking that makes things faster or more efficient.
Yesterday I was in a store that had one line and the line moved pretty quickly. Much more quickly than just depending on one cashier and taking your chances. At first only the cheap stores like TJ Maxx or Marshals had this. Now it has come to other stores like Target and Michaels. Those aren’t upscale stores, but they represent the kind of mainstream adoption that proves that this works better.
What is also interesting is that many times this one line technology is connected directly to self-service check outs. So you get in a que and then check it out yourself. It is interesting isn’t it? If customers are going to do all the work themselves of buying something, then really these stores are training customers to be independent. This will only work against them when things like drone delivery become available. It is just a matter of time. Then we will order something online, and it will be delivered to us, and stores will cry “What about us?” Well stores, you are the ones who trained us with bad service, overpriced things and now self-service.
In a way, stores seem to have a doomed future. I can’t imagine how they will survive with all the on-line shopping that happens. When you can get whatever you want in a few days, stores only seem to be another hold over from the past. Perhaps used by those who are poor, but for middle class and up, online is clearly preferred. It is kind of funny to think that in the future places like Nordstrom or other “luxury” stores will be perceived as low class simply because they are limited and not online.
Eventually the one line in stores will be replaced with the store online. When that happens, we won’t have any wait, and then the illusion of difference of quality in brands will cease.