Ask customers to identify their most common frustrations in a grocery store and a wide variety of answers will abound. Many shoppers are annoyed by the arrangement of products within the store, or instances when stores re-arrange the merchandise. Others reserve their highest frustrations for the behavior of their fellow shoppers (such as other customers blocking aisles, abandoning carts, or writing checks in the check-out line).
But in general, the check-out experience seems to be the most common frustration expressed by grocery store shoppers. Unfortunately, grocery stores have largely been unable to go to single-line queuing systems (utilized at banks, airports, fast-food restaurants, etc.). So, customers still have to choose a check-out line, and nervously hope they picked a fast-moving one.
Additionally, many studies have found that self-service checkout lines, which are often less populated than lines which have a working cashier, do not get customers through the check-out process any faster.
One potential time-saving process is being tested. Some stores are experimenting with technology which enables products to be scanned (and even bagged) before a customer arrives at a station featuring a live cashier.
While superstores such as Target and Walmart also operate with multiple-line, rather than single-line, queuing systems, they have improved customer satisfaction on high-traffic days (such as Black Friday) by utilizing line management systems at their entrances and at other locations both inside and outside their stores. Portable stanchions with retractable-belt systems have created physical line space which results in first-come, first-serve line management which is organized and fair.