You choose to shop at a grocery store that’s conveniently located, with the best selection, the lowest prices, the friendliest coupon policy – then you go to check out, wait in a long line, and the cashier takes forever scanning your items and coupons. So now what do you do?

If you’re like shoppers who participated in a new survey, you ditch that store and never come back, even if you end up having to pay more somewhere else.

The survey, conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Digimarc, found that shoppers can’t stand long lines and slow checkouts – and that stores aren’t doing a good enough job addressing the problem. When asked how satisfied they are with several attributes of their local grocery store’s performance, “length of lines” ranked dead last, with only 23% expressing satisfaction. That’s lower than price and promotions, which pleased 32% of shoppers. Location was tops, cited by 48%.

“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,” the report found.

38% of shoppers surveyed said the length of lines was “very important” to a good shopping experience, while 50% said the same about the overall checkout experience.

A bad checkout experience is not just annoying to shoppers, but potentially costly to stores. The survey found that 70% of shoppers have abandoned shopping trips, with long lines being the most common reason for doing so. “Shoppers today have less time than ever to get their grocery shopping done, and they want it to be a fast and easy experience,” the report advised retailers. “Over half of shoppers are willing to spend less in your store, or even walk away entirely, to avoid a slow checkout.”


The report even invokes the looming threat of online shopping to spur retailers to action. Earlier Forrester research predicted that online grocery spending will nearly double over the next five years, from $185 million this year to $334 million in 2022. “To compete with the speed and convenience of online shopping, retailers must make the in-store experience better,” the report warns.

So how can stores speed things up? It just so happens that Digimarc, the sponsor of the survey, has a product that just so happens to help make checkout faster and easier.

Digimarc designs invisible bar codes that can be placed all over product packaging, so the item will scan no matter what direction it’s facing. No more pausing to align that pesky little rectangular bar code with a temperamental scanner. The technology could even be used for coupons. “Just like a Digimarc Barcode applied to a product package, it would increase the scanning speed of the printed coupon,” a company representative told Coupons in the News several years ago.

The Digimarc technology has yet to become widely adopted. All the more reason for a new report to come out that finds slow checkout is a big problem – one that Digimarc can help solve.

“Retailers put effort and expense into pricing promotions for consumers focused on value, but they may be underestimating the true cost of slow checkout in terms of lost business revenue and diminished loyalty,” Digimarc vice president of marketing Heidi Dethloff said in a statement. “Slow checkout frustrates today’s shoppers who value their time as much as they do their wallet.”

So the next time you choose a place to go grocery shopping, keep an eye on the checkout lines. Low prices and coupon-friendly policies are nice – but sometimes, saving money isn’t everything.

Photo by wuestenigel


One Comment

  1. sat nite and sunday morning this weekend in many areas for rosh hashana–crowds and lines

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