Why Costco Doesn't Have An Express Checkout Lane

Costco gets much of its retail fame from its bulk items sold at wholesale prices. The exclusive members club has pallets upon pallets of these goods ready to buy, so there's something for every shopper from tech enthusiasts to patrons with long grocery lists alike. Many different people frequent the warehouse club for this very reason and Go Banking reports that many members really do save a lot of money every year. And with starter membership packages at only $60 for the year, it's often worth the membership fee.

Other than having some of the best deals, one thing Costco is undervalued for is its speed. Much like Chick-fil-A, lines may look long, but you can usually speed through them pretty fast. According to an interview with Costco CEO Craig Jelinek with Consumer Reports, a shopper's normal wait time in a Costco line is roughly just one minute.

Still, nothing can be more daunting or frustrating than standing in line with two items behind three other shoppers with packed carts. It just doesn't seem fair. Many other stores have express lanes available for customers with small hauls, so why does it seem like Costco is falling behind?

How Costco reels in new customers

While Costco is currently void of express lanes, it's all part of the plan. A Costco membership comes with a lot of perks, according to Wirecutter. Executive members receive discounts on hotels, rental cars, and even cash back on their Costco purchases. The chain currently offers two basic types of memberships with the Gold Star plan at $60 and the Executive plan at $120. Still, any Costco member can enjoy a slew of other perks such as wholesale-priced tires, grocery delivery service, and even discounts on gift cards. 

According to Fortune, Costco has very much thrived in the customer satisfaction department. All of that success landed the chain a spot on Fortune's list of Most Admired Companies of 2022, not to mention the National Retail Federation's list of Top 50 Global Retailers. So, with all of its success, why doesn't the company implement something that we know works like an express lane?

Why Costco rejects life in the express lane

Because most Costcos operate out of huge warehouses, the company has put a few smart methods in place in order to keep the place at top efficiency. One of these protocols involves ensuring that Costco checkout lines move as fast as possible. The strategy starts at the door according to some Costco team members that spoke with Mental Floss

If you've noticed an employee with a click counter at Costco's entrance, this is done to keep track of the number of customers coming in the doors, and for the supervisor in charge of the registers. As more customers come in, more registers will open up. This method helps ensure enough registers are always open. And since most employees are cross-trained, there should always be enough employees to help out. 

With methods like these in place, it severely cuts down on the need for an express lane. Jelinek further stressed Costco's investment in speed and how an express lane is simply unnecessary, via Consumer Reports. And according to Costco, the chain might consider adding express lanes in the future, but right now express lanes would simply be more trouble than they're worth.