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Will contactless cards solve long queues?


Published: 27 August 2010

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Most Britons realise that standing in a queue comes with the territory when they go out shopping, although a new study has suggested that they are still irritated by being made to wait. However, one credit card provider has claimed that new technology could greatly reduce this problem all over the country.


Sources of queuing irritation
Barclays conducted a study which found that more than two in three (68%) people have abandoned their place in a queue at some point in the past. The main frustrations cited by the 2,000 respondents were not enough staff at the till, followed by cashiers spending too much time talking to customers. Shoppers taking too long to find their cash, cheque books or debit and credit cards was also noted as a major source of irritation. The most likely venues for these instances were found to be supermarkets and stores selling food, drink or clothes.

Retailers place 'enormous' emphasis on reducing queues
The study also revealed that 29% of Britons are put off entering stores due to long queues at least once a week. Barclays even suggested that some companies decide to move their tills to the back of their shops to conceal the queues and make sure they do not deter potential customers. Retail consultant Clare Rayner hit back at the findings, claiming that bosses place great emphasis on reducing waiting times for their shoppers where possible.

"An enormous amount of time and effort is invested to put in place labour scheduling systems to ensure staff are available to call to open tills," she told BBC News. "The problem arises when all the tills are open and the place is still heaving."

The contactless credit card solution
However, Barclays has offered an alternative solution in the shape of contactless credit card technology. The new development involves shoppers scanning their plastic cards past a reader, which then debits their account without the need for entering a pin. Stuart Neal, head of UK payment acceptance at the company, believes this could dramatically improve the efficiency of till operations at retail outlets.

"By embracing technology and installing new payments systems, such as contactless, retailers will stay ahead of the curve and limit the amount of time that people are waiting in shop queues," he said.

While it remains to be seen whether contactless credit card technology will take off in a major way, what seems clear is that consumers are willing to try anything that may reduce the irritation of lengthy queues while they are shopping. And perhaps retailers will be sold on the benefits of the new payment technique if it can help them to avoid losing business unnecessarily.

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