Monday , August 15 2022

A holiday miracle? Stores are trying to reduce long lines


Retailers will once again offer big deals and hours earlier to attract buyers to their stores for the start of the holiday season. But they will also try to bring buyers out of their shops faster than ever, minimizing the things they hate most: long lines.

Walmart, Target and other large retailers are sending workers to all their stores to check their customers with mobile devices. And at Macy's, buyers can scan and pay for items on their own smartphones.

Merchants hope that the changes will make shopping in the store no complicated at all. Long lines can irritate shoppers, who can leave the shop empty-handed and can spend their money elsewhere or go online.

"It's all quick and convenient," says Carolyn Sarpy, who paid for a toy basketball game on a mobile device released to a worker at a Walmart store in Houston. Sarpy says he'll "come back and go out" from a store if he sees long lines.

Walmart says workers will be in the busiest sections of stores, ready to drain customers' credit cards when they are ready to pay. To make them easier to find, workers wear yellow briquets that say, "See with me."

The largest retailer in the world first tested the service in the spring at more than 350 stores in its lawn and garden centers. He did well, says Walmart, and extended the holiday season.

Retailers are trying to reach giants of technology. Apple, for example, has left those who buy iPhone, laptops and other store gadgets to pay on mobile devices issued to workers. And Amazon has launched shopless stores in San Francisco, Chicago and Seattle.

Barbara Kahn, marketing professor at Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, says buyers know the technology is there for faster shopping. "This makes them even more impatient," she says.

The real test of their success will be whether retailers can handle the big crowds they are expecting to happen on the Black Friday weekend. Thanksgiving Day is expected to be the busiest shopping day this year, according to the ShopperTrak Retail Review Company. Saturday after Thanksgiving is also in the top 10 places.

"The biggest pain point on Black Friday is in line," says Jason Goldberg, senior vice president of commerce and content practices at the SapientRazorfish consulting group.

JC Penney, who has been providing mobile phone for many years, says he has sent 6,000 more mobile devices to stores this year, so employees can quickly check out buyers, as when the lines become long on Black Friday. Other stores test it for the first time: Kohl says iPad workers will travel to 160 stores with over 1,100 stores.

Macy's, who announced his program in May, says customers need to use the mobile app to scan price tags and pay. After that, he has to go to an express payline and display a worker's application, which then removes the security labels from the clothing.

The target checkout program, which is launched in all 1,800 stores, is similar to Walmart's. Target says that in the electronic area, where there are usually two cash registers, four workers will be sent with portable devices to help customers buy televisions, video games and other devices.

"It's about serving customers as they please as they want," says John Mulligan, chief executive of Target.

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