Care to wait?

Ducking into a store on a busy day, you’ve spent precious minutes looking for the things you need to buy. They are finally in your hands and you are ready to purchase until you see the long lines in front of the cashiers. Your heartbeat goes up and you start to question whether the items you have in your hands are worth waiting in line. In the end, you dump the items and leave the store. Sound familiar?

For busy businesses, it’s no joke. A vast body of research states that retailers can gain as much as 3% in market share by shaving off 7 seconds off the customer waiting time. Three percent may not sound like a lot but it adds up, especially in competitive industries such as fast food restaurants, and retailers are starting to take notice, following in the footsteps of brands like Starbucks, an early adopter of online payments and mobile ordering.

In 2009, Starbucks innovatively experimented with allowing customers to pay via a mobile application to shorten lines. The mobile application also allowed users to top off their cards digitally, check balances and collect reward points that could be later redeemed for drinks. Pushing the envelope yet further, in 2014 Starbucks made headlines by upgrading their mobile application to allow users to not only pay but place their orders over the app and pick it up at the designated store of their choice. According to a BI Intelligence report, the Starbucks mobile app is the most successful in-store mobile-payment app in the U.S., processing over $1.5 billion in payment volume in the U.S. in 2014 alone, accounting about 15% of their total North American sales.

In The Pink (, a retail chain located in Massachusetts, took a different but equally effective tactic to reducing lines and improving customer experience. In the spring of 2014, the management took out the traditional checkout counters at eight of their stores and equipped the store clerks with iPad minis, transforming them into fashion consultants who could not only process a sale on the spot but could perform Customer Relations Management (CRM) such as checking customer’s purchase history and inventory check from other stores. In the 4 months after moving to mobile point-of-sale, Pink witnessed a 23% jump in same-store sales.

Starbucks and In The Pink are not alone in making the move towards digital to end the “waiting in line” issue. Many companies are now following in their footsteps in hope to decrease the waiting in line and increase their sales and their ability to focus on their customers in the most efficient way. Is your business ready to make the digital leap?