searching for the best queueing system in the world

i hate queueing. i even hate the word queueing, which offends all of my sensibilities around the spelling of words. but this hardly makes me special. everyone hates queueing. so based on my experiences in New York so far, Whole Food in Columbus Circle at 8:30pm on a Thursday night is a bad place to find yourself.

BUT it did alert me to one of the crucial elements that mitigates a sense of outrage at queueing (beyond simple time minimisation) – which is a sense of justice. The Whole Foods queue delivers justice brilliantly…because it doesn’t matter which line you stand in, the lines are served turn by turn as your number comes up. simple, but effective – and a great relief to me as i was stuck behind an eccentric mother/daughter couple who i then watched argue at one of the serving tills for at least twenty minutes…

another great spoiler for queue rage is humility…and indeed a sense of information. again Whole Foods did this well, with a little grid at the exit point giving me advice for future visits which times and days to avoid in future…with the time I had chosen described as ‘crazy busy’.

a good article on different systems here – yes, whole foods has the best system. fact.

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/23/business/23checkout.html?_r=1

so overall, a reasonably pleasant shopping experience arising from the shadows of a potential disaster. but it did set me to thinking – is there not more that technology could do to help free me from the tyranny of queueing?

now of course there is one simple answer to this question, which is online purchasing. but sometimes engaging with the physical world at a time not of your choosing, and browsing some shelves for the stuff you need but didn’t know you needed, is simply inevitable. is there not a way that we can make it less horrible?

i am sure that there is. and i am equally sure that as people’s expectations rise and their patience decreases, this is going to be an ever more important battle ground in the retail war for customers’ affections. any thoughts?

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