What is Line Busting and Why It’s Essential

For retailers in 2020, primarily for essential stores, long customer lines at check out presented a massive challenge. Increasing store visits is a primary goal for retailers everywhere. Line-busting ensures crowded stores can still provide a superior customer experience.

Enjoying the sales revenue when customers pack a store means implementing systems to guarantee they come back. Line-busting refers to tactics retailers take to streamline check out lines, reduce line waiting for customers, and improve the flow of business.

Storeworks can help you design and implement proprietary line-busting systems that promise a better customer experience. When your customers feel safe, supported, and satisfied in your store, they come back week after week. Contact Storeworks today to improve customer flow and your bottom line.

Do I need a line-busting system?

If the COVID-19 pandemic taught us one thing, it showed that essential stores like grocers, pharmacies, and other such retailers can become quickly overwhelmed. When the public fears running out of toilet paper, retailers have new challenges and long lines. 

Of course, global calamities aren’t the only factor that creates a glut at the check-out lanes. Seasonal surges, holidays, weekends, and even lunchtime can explode store visits and invite bottlenecks that dampen the customer experience.

We can cite several examples of large and small retailers experiencing customer surges (good news!) and long lines (lousy news.) Thankfully, several easily implementable solutions can flex with your customer traffic to streamline patron flow.

Stores like Costco, Hyvee, Target, and Walmart have pivoted relatively quickly from crowded store check-outs to a combination of in-store, curbside, and online fulfillment services. This line-busting evolution can provide a template for other companies that want to maximize their safety and fulfillment effectiveness.


Why should I line bust?

Remember, customer experience is one of the best predictors of customer loyalty. Ensuring that store patrons can quickly locate their items, pay for them expediently, and leave is paramount to superior user experience. Why? Because of the following:

  • More than ever, store visitors want safety. Finding their items and leaving the store fast could mean less time in a mask, and less perceived risk of germ-transmission. It’s a challenge to enforce social distancing when lines are long. Eliminating lines means fewer instances of in-store customer clusters.
  • In our face-paced retail culture, waiting in line is the last thing a customer wants to do. Right or wrong, faster check-out service is better by most customer service standards. Faster, kind, and accurate service is the best choice for a retailer to make in line-busting tactics.

Line-busting strategy 101

Not every line-busting tool fits each retailer. The first step to take in your line-busting challenge is to discover your customer surge patterns in detail. Your patterns will be unique to the day, week, month, season, or year, depending on your business model.

If you’ve ever visited a Taco John’s on Taco Tuesday, you know that each week those stores may double (or more!) their customer volume. Scheduling additional staff for orders and assembly and ensuring plenty of product on hand, is essential to manage the increased sales for Taco Tuesday.

Retailers like Target, Best Buy, and Walmart hire additional help and open more lanes just before Thanksgiving until after the New Year rolls in.

Diving into your store visit metrics and your customer demographics will help you uncover surge patterns. You’ll use these metrics to design a line-busting strategy that fits your business plan and can flex with customer volume.  

Bonus: You can analyze your slower periods and create promotions that pull customers into your store more reliably during traditional “down-times.” Further, if you have an effective line-busting strategy in place, you can also respond quickly to unpredictable events (like pandemics!)

Store automation and line-busting

Of course, ensuring the correct staffing cohort during your customer surges is a good first step in your line-busting strategy. It’s even better if you can hire a dedicated leader to oversee your line-busting initiatives. A key staffer who is predicting and responding to customer surges before they occur is an asset. 

While hiring or scheduling more staff during busy store hours is one way to alleviate lines, so is bumping up your technology. Here are critical line-busting technology tips that may help you line-bust more effectively:

    1. Automated check-out stations: A bank of auto-check-outs improves purchasing efficiency and decreases the need for additional staff hours. One or two staff people can assist customers with problems or questions as they inevitably arise while allowing a quicker flow of customers out of the store.
    2. Alternative check out locations: If you can set up additional space for patrons to check out throughout the store, you can help your customers save time and avoid lines. Clear, branded signage and social marketing strategies can help you pull customers in knowing they won’t have to wait to get out.
    3. Intuitive points of sale: If you set up alternative checkout stations, your POS software should integrate seamlessly with the rest of your store. Customers and staff should be able to check out precisely the same as they would by heading to the front of the store. Further, equipping staff members with mobile POS tools like tablets with “chip-dip” payment card tools can enable on-the-spot checkout experiences that bypass long lines.
  • More efficient curbside pick-up strategy: Employing mobile solutions for your online order shoppers and expediting curb-side pick-up lines is the new wave of  retail line-busting. Enabling your staff to shop, assemble, and deliver orders efficiently to waiting cars elevates this new customer touch-point significantly. Improve customer service when you incorporate their mobile devices too.

Hire a pro to bust your lines reliably

The experienced, professional team at Storeworks focuses solely on improving the client experience for our retail customers. We craft the solutions that fit your needs precisely through our expansive software, hardware, and design tools. 

From POS systems to intuitive in-store fulfillment kiosks, to intelligent warehousing, our goal is to set you apart as a premium experience provider for your patrons. We help you attract more customers to your stores, and keep them coming back through innovative customer service.

Contact Storeworks today, and we’ll get in touch with all the ways your retail company can WIN in today’s competitive, automated retail client.