Ten Items and Under: Essentials for Your Express Lane’s Point of Sale

Ah, the Ten Items and Under line. Opinions vary on this diamond lanecheckout_aisle for the supermarket, this carpool lane for the hurried and the harried. Some try to game the system, sneaking in with twelve items, while another customer with eight items grimaces at the former. What does the express lane mean for point of sale users? Well, mostly it means the chance to add on superfluous items is slimmer than if the customer was in a regular checkout line. Herein lies the dilemma; how does a store owner maximize the amount of items sold at the point of sale while maintaining a total under eleven items?

Traffic jams at your point of sale

Divergent opinions on the express lane result from what we can call Whole Foods Syndrome. That is, I”ve rarely seen what I’m about to explain outside of a Whole Foods. This situation occurs at the point of sale when too many customers opt for the Ten Items and Under line while two few queue at the regular checkout aisles. Why does this happen? Part of the reason seems to be that the express lanes are the first lanes customers see upon heading toward checkout. Just as you drive around the parking lot endlessly searching for a parking spot, often when you could have just parked further and been inside already, customers opt for the closest route outside. Another reason could be that, unlike traditional supermarkets like Gelson’s and Ralphs, there are fewer point of sale options in Whole Foods (e.g., no self checkout, fewer express lanes in general).

Upsell and optimize

So what can a store owner do to make the most of these circumstances? First of all, assume that each client does not have exactly ten items upon checking out. Put items at the point of sale that would be attractive to savers. A recent analysis of the implosion of the J.C. Penney franchise explained the psyche of customers looking for a deal and what marketing messages affected them. Gum, raw food bars, individual chocolate squares, and pressed juices are great items to add to the checkout line since they are relatively inexpensive, easily portable, and can be enjoyed on the spot.

One positive upshot of the clogged express lane is that customers have more time to mentally register (no pun intended) the items in front of them. While their counterparts in the traditional checkout queues have all they can fit in their carts and might breeze through the point of sale, Ten Items and Under shoppers have more time and perhaps a more flexible budget to spend on a that tenth item.