In Finland, A Chain Tries An Extra-Slow Checkout Lane. Can Armchairs Make Customers Happy—And Maybe Buy More?

Written by Frank Hayes
November 9th, 2011

While U.S. grocery chains are struggling with whether they’re better or worse off with self-checkout and express lanes, a supermarket in Espoo, Finland, is experimenting in the opposite direction: intentionally slow checkout. Dubbed the “don’t panic” lane, the slow-track checkout at a store in the K-citymarket chain offers armchairs for people waiting to pay, help putting products on the checkout belt and a generally relaxed approach to paying for merchandise.

The pilot project is being done in conjunction with researchers at Aalto University, who thought mentally disabled customers would prefer a less hectic, more helpful checkout process. But it seems elderly customers and even parents with small children in tow also like the slow lane (those armchairs seem to be a big draw in both groups). Running customers through checkout at top speed may be the most efficient way to do it, but an extra-slow checkout offers plenty of opportunities to hit those armchair-bound customers with digital signage and potential impulse items—keeping some customers happier and potentially paying for itself with increased sales. For chains that have already given up on one-size-fits-all checkout, that slow lane might actually make good retail sense.


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