Crowd Control For Stores | Retail’s Complete Guide

When it comes to best practice for a store’s crowd control, we’re not just referring to a Black Friday sale, although that might be an important factor. However, most commonly, crowd control for stores refers to queue management, safety, security, and, these days, health protocols. So, let’s start with this question:

What Does Crowd Control Mean?

Crowd control is simply the management of a place where people gather. For stores, crowd control may be used to literally control crowds, like if you’re having a huge sale or hosting an event. It can also be retractable belt barriers for those waiting in line or to cordon off hazardous areas. 

What Is the Difference Between Crowd Management and Crowd Control?

Crowd management is preparation. It’s organizing equipment like barricades and retractable belt barriers in anticipation for visitors. Crowd control, on the other hand, is crowd management in action.

For stores, crowd management best practice will differ from other industries. While there may be some crossover between event venues or festivals and stores, the general advice is different enough to require some knowledge before anyone could confidently proceed. Crowd management is a cost-effective investment, but it is an investment, and you want to put yourself in the position to get the most for your money.

Check out our full article: What’s the Difference Between Crowd Control and Crowd Management?

Let’s go to the topics:

How Do You Manage Crowd Control for Stores?

The biggest advantage for store owners is the fact that you’re already familiar with crowd management for retail. By retail, we mean drug and grocery stores, convenient stores, and department and hardware stores, as well as boutiques, specialty shops, bakeries, and so on. 

In our book, anywhere with products for sale is a store. All stores likely need some form of crowd control. And the best place to start for any store owner is to identify the crowd management goals.

Managing Wait Times

Manage crowd control for stores

Customers don’t want to wait long to check out, and a slow moving line can frustrate people into not returning – or even make them step out of line.

One of the easiest ways to solve this issue is to deploy retractable belt barriers (also known as stanchions). Whether for a single line or several, you can let people know where the queue begins and the best route to keep things moving. Choose from standing post stanchions, wall-mounted belt barriers, or a combination of the two.

High Adaptability

As the name suggests, the belts retract directly into the barriers, making them extremely compact when not in-use. The four-sided slot inserts also makes changing the shape of the line quick and easy, whether the queue needs to be elongated or shortened.

Stanchion Accessories

stanchions accessories boos revenue with crowd control for stores

At stores, stanchions are a great way to encourage impulse purchases and distribute marketing literature, like coupons or upcoming sales. The SONCO store offers a few different stanchion accessories that work to boost revenue, including literature holders and display bowls, which can hold last-minute items. This is a great combination of both crowd management and facilitating more buys.

Custom Retractable Belts

crowd control for stores with retractable bel barriers

A popular choice in crowd control for stores are custom belts. This is a great way to match your crowd management with the overall aesthetic of your brand, and gives the impression that the equipment is yours rather than a third-party product.

Store Navigation

store navigation for help in crowd management

Large, high, and clear signage is an important aspect of crowd control for stores. A great example is the signage at the front and back ends of grocery store aisles, like “dairy” and “condiments.” Another is the large signage designating sections of a department store, such as “home goods” and “men’s clothing.” Even a sign for the bathroom can get customers where they need to be faster, more easily, and more safely.

Store Safety

One of the most common examples of crowd control that you’ll see in a store is the bright-yellow “caution, wet floor” sign, which lets customers know to be careful after a cleaning. In fact, anything that improves visitor safety is an example of crowd management, and some examples may be required by law. A wet floor sign minimizes your potential liability.

A retractable belt barrier can also be a great tool for keeping folks out of cleaning areas. Custom belts can even display “cleaning in progress” messaging on top of roping off the specific area. This is particularly useful when cleaning bathrooms.

Store Renovations, Repairs, and Temporary Hazards

In some cases, customer safety may involve keeping folks away from dangerous areas. That may require more heavy-duty crowd control measures, and best practice in this case may be to treat these areas as you would a construction zone. Temporary fencing and steel barricades are effective equipment for both suggesting that customers stay away and physically keeping them out.

Protecting Assets

protect assets in store

You may need to leave certain equipment and materials in vulnerable areas. Places like shopping mall floors and parking lots can turn into temporary storage units, but those assets need to be protected. Something as simple as a barricade fence barrier can keep things under lock and key overnight, especially when combined with security measures like cameras and automatic lights.

Vehicle Management

Speaking of parking lots, vehicle safety is another consideration when investing in crowd management. Whether an indoor or outdoor parking lot, maintenance needs will arise, and having your own bright-orange channelizer drums, traffic cones, and similar items can save you money in the long-run. You also don’t want to panic-shop for them the second you need them.

Just like for pedestrians, drivers need channelizers to know where to go – and what areas to avoid. But beyond repairs, vehicle management is also used to keep people from parking closer to the entrance than is allowed, or to steer clear of areas where delivery vehicles need to park.

Implementing Crowd Management for Retail Lines and Beyond

Whether for the line in a department store, signage in a grocery store, or parking lot management anywhere, you have a partner in crowd management and crowd control with SONCO. On top of the (hopefully) helpful blogs, our team of experienced experts are available today for no-obligation advice.