Managing retail customer queues to decrease dissatisfaction

An article in the Wall Street Journal (Dec 8, 2011) describes retail queues and consumer perceptions of waiting time.  While a single queue is mathematically ideal as an approach to decrease average wait times, consumers perceive any waiting time greater than 3 minutes as higher than the real time.  Efforts to alleviate waiting times include handheld scanners for checkout (at Apple), queue busters who prescan items while the customer waits in line (Home Depot)  etc. But should single queues be dropped in favor of separate queues with consumers choosing their line ? Should entertainment (using TV screens), or impulse buy opportunities (Gap, Old Navy) be the way to decrease waiting time perceptions ? Or should more cashiers be added if the line grows beyond a fixed number ?

About aviyer2010

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