Hold up, wait a minute! Part II:  5 Tips for turning showroom waits into “wins”

August 16, 2018

We said it before, and we’ll say it again—waiting time in the retail world can be the kiss of death. In Part I of this article, we discussed how the high of the shopping experience can quickly be killed by time spent waiting for service or queuing up in a line. We shared five strategies for transforming waiting times in the lobby. 

Once your customers have proceeded past this entry point, their journey can still include a little more waiting time. A critical moment of the overall retail experience is the final transaction. Even if the entire experience up to this point has been amazing, the time spent waiting to purchase and receive their product can stir up negative emotions and have them walking out the door with a bad impression.

According to Paco Underhill, who is credited with founding the science of shopper behavior, “Not only do they hate to wait, they also hate to feel negative emotions while they do it—like frustration at watching inefficiency, or anxiety wondering if they’re in the fastest line, or boredom because there is nothing for them to read, watch or shop while they wait. The memory of a good shopping trip can be wiped out by a bad experience in the checkout line.”

Underhill also points out one of the hidden dangers of making people wait: people’s perception of time changes drastically the longer they spend waiting. According to his research, any wait over ninety seconds or so begins to distort one’s sense of time. 

“If they’ve waited two minutes, they’ll say it’s been three or four. In the shopper’s mind, the waiting period goes from being a transitional pause in a larger enterprise (purchasing goods) to being a full-fledged activity of its own. That’s when time becomes very bad. Time’s a cruel master in the world of shopping.”

- Paco Underhill, Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping

With this in mind, we have some tips to transform the showroom experience and point of sale process so that the actual waiting time can be perceived as hanging out in one of the coolest stores ever. 

5 Tips for Turning Showroom Waits into “Wins”

  1. Elevate the Customer Journey with Beautifully Branded Moments

Again, design can be your hero here in the showroom. Use design to bring your brand to life. People want to be immersed in an experience and feel like they are a part of a brand tribe. Make it photo-worthy. What are the Instagrammable moments that will engage your customers and spread the word of your brand when they post their photos?  

  1. Educate with Cross-Merchandising

As customers make their way to the checkout area, present them with products they might want to try next time. A key strategy here is to cross-merchandise across product categories. This is an opportunity to educate them by showing connections between different items and potential product combinations they may not come up with on their own. These can be “aha” moments that capture their attention while they wait—And stoke the excitement for their next visit. 

  1. Upsell with Visual Merchandising at Point of Sale

A no-brainer that you see in many retail settings is attractive and enticing displays at the point of sale. How can you engage customers with a display of smaller add-on items that complement their main purchase? Not only does this serve as a distraction, it increases revenue and delights customers.

  1. Create Efficiencies with ATM Transactions

Cash transactions are currently a standard in cannabis dispensaries, so including an ATM in the space is a typical mode-of-operation. Think about how and where you integrate an ATM into the waiting process. By positioning it in a location that’s easily accessible for customers to use after they make a selection, and while they are waiting for order fulfillment, you can create a natural flow in the transaction process. This is giving them an activity to engage in while their purchase is being packaged and naturally creates a properly timed sequence of events. 

  1. Support the Sale with Digital Content

Does it complement your brand to incorporate digital content, such as menu screens or video presentations, in the showroom? When used effectively this content can educate and advertise while minimizing the impression of wait times. Think about entertaining video content relevant to your brand and the experience. Maybe it is a series of how-to videos, such as how to roll a joint; or in-depth information about a product offering; or the story of your organic cultivation practices; or information on an upcoming event that you’re sponsoring. Make sure it is on-brand and supports the flow of the customer journey through the space.

The 10 strategies shared in this two-part series (Did you miss Part 1?) are about caring for your customers, recognizing their natural behaviors, and designing a fully immersive branded experience that keeps your guests smiling from start to finish and beyond. In today's crazy world, there’s a fine line between a few extra minutes and a few wasted minutes. Being aware of and in tune with your customers’ journey through your store, noting where waits occur, and implementing the appropriate wait-bending strategies will have your customers enjoying this journey…instead of putting up with the extra errand. Make it a priority to change the inevitable “waits” of the dispensary experience into something a customer truly wants.