Survey insights for US department store retailers: how consumers want to shop

Ben Abbitt
by Ben Abbitt

How do customers want their experiences to be managed within department retail stores…

To understand how Qudini can help our clients at this important time, we sought to understand which of our five key Retail Choreography tools customers wanted to see within department retail stores to better manage their experience. So we surveyed customer opinions on:

  • Virtual wait line systems: To manage store capacity and to enable customers to line up virtually using their phone or through a host with a tablet.
  • Appointment scheduling software: To enable customers to schedule store visits and in-person service or virtual service 24/7 from any channel.
  • Contactless collection check-in: To enable customers with online orders to check-in when they arrive at store so that store teams bring their order to them outside of the store.

How do customers want their experiences to be managed within department stores…

Customer priorities of these tools specific to department retail stores were as follows:

1. Virtual appointments (43%)

2. Contactless online order collections (29%)

3. Virtual wait line systems (28%)

4. Store host with tablet (28%)

5. Store appointments (21%)



Consumers earning between $100 and $300k where the most likely to want all Retail Choreography solutions from department retailers.

Male consumers were slightly more interested in all virtual and store appointments while female consumers were more interested virtual wait lines and contactless curbside pickup.

When asked why customers would find virtual wait line systems and appointment booking software useful within retail stores during the pandemic, it was clear that most customers felt the solutions could alleviate their health concerns, alongside their concerns around wasted time, poor weather conditions, lack of information and fair process.


What impact would using these solutions have on department retail customer spend, advocacy and loyalty?

The survey responses also indicate that department store retailers who use any of these five solutions to choreograph their customers’ experience stand to gain significantly through improved revenues and brand relationships across channels.

The solutions would positively impact consumers’ interactions with retailers in one or more of the following ways:

How long customers are prepared to wait for service within department stores…

When asked how long customers are willing to wait in department retail stores we found that:

19% will only tolerate a wait of up to 3 minutes. 20% will wait between 3-7 minutes and 19% will be willing to wait between 8 and 10 minutes. In total, this means that more than half of department retailers’ shoppers (58%) will only wait up to 10 minutes for service.

These insights demonstrate that the wait time does not need to be long before significant revenues can be lost.

Interestingly, despite being more likely to walkout without buying anything and less likely to return to the store if they are forced to wait, Millennial and GenZ customers have a higher mean wait time threshold than older generations when it comes to waiting in lines at department retail stores. They are more patient of longer waits, though less tolerant and also, more personally insulted if a wait exceeds their expectations.

The same applies to consumers from higher income households. They are less likely to leave stores because of long wait times, but are also less forgiving and less likely to return to the stores afterwards.

Department retail wait time is similar to DIY and pet stores.

The survey insights showed the powerful business case benefits for Retail Choreography tools within department store retail

Our survey found that customers are more likely to find Retail Choreography tools useful within department stores.

All this confirms what we all instinctively know to be true – customers want retailers to use digital tools to improve their experience, and they will be driven to spend more and to engage more across a retailer’s entire omni-channel offering in return.

The significantly greater interest in Retail Choreography tools suggests they may have wanted these kinds of tools all along and that Covid-19 will prove to be a catalyst for a new era of omni-channel retailing as retailers realize the powerful business case benefits behind offering such tools.

To further add to the business case benefit of using Retail Choreography solutions within retail and the conclusion that Covid will prove to be a catalyst for a new era of omni-channel retailing where lines are eliminated and in-store or virtual appointments and curbside pickup become the norm.

Overall, our survey shows that a long wait time is more likely to deter consumers, especially younger consumers and those from higher household income groups, from visiting stores or returning in the future. To combat this, the insights show that Retail Choreography tools offer a powerful antidote, as these same demographics are also the most likely to be driven to purchase in-store and online across a retailer’s channels, and the most likely to return again as a result of a retailer’s use of digital tools to choreograph their experience.


Improving department store retail profitability and driving lasting brand relevance

These insights show that both during and outside of the Coronavirus, department store retailers have much to gain by using Retail choreography solutions to manage lines, to offer in-store and virtual appointments and to provide contactless pickup services.

Our many case studies with leading department store retailers have also shown the same. For more information on how we can help your brand take a look at our customer success stories or get in touch with our team for a demo at


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