By Sarah Pierce
In our last blog, we shared the top 3 improvements for online purchases. This week, we’re focusing specifically on the #1 improvement most important to today’s consumers.
We all dread the sight of heading towards a cash register, only to notice the sea of people waiting in line. I know I’m not the only one who has dropped their basket and walked out of the store empty-handed. And it’s no different for online purchasing. When you get to the check-out form and you see fields and fields of data that need to be keyed in, you think twice about completing that purchase. We’re not alone in this feeling.
WisePlum, In partnership with Google Canada, Retail Council of Canada (RCC) and RCC’s Marketing Advisory Council we conducted a study in the Fall of 2018 which surveyed 5,007 Canadian consumers to gather insights on their shopping preferences, expectations and needs. Specifically, we asked what improvements they wanted most from their retail experience, and coming in at number one was a faster checkout experience.
People will wait hours for a product if they really want it but are not as inclined to wait once they are ready to pay and leave. In fact, according to QMinder, if a customer has a bad experience waiting in line at a store, they are more likely to never return again. Our study found this to be especially true for grocery stores, where 44% of respondents cited this as the top improvement compared to 30% of non-grocery retailers.
So how can you maximize efficiency in your checkout process? Here are a few ways to ensure your customers don’t wait too long and return for future visits.
Get with the payment program
If you offer limited payment options, customers have to figure out which way they can pay for their items. While this may seem trivial, if every customer in line takes a few seconds to decide on a payment option, the time adds up.
It may seem obvious to mention the acceptance of credit cards, EMV chip cards, and tap cards, but in reality, there are still businesses which lack even these fundamental forms of payment. For businesses that already accept these, the idea is to go even further with mobile payment. Mobile wallets such as Apple Pay and Android wallet are apps that allow customers to pay using their smartphones, and even through Apple Watch, sending money virtually.
These apps are increasing in popularity, and according to SqareUp, have the potential to speed up your sales per hour faster than any other form of payment. Having them available is one thing; promoting them is another. Think about placing signage at the beginning of the checkout aisle promoting the desired forms of payment. Driving awareness of your payment solutions that offer speed and convenience is a win for both you and your customers.
Move the checkout away from the line
Self-checkout started in grocery stores but is now expanding to the retail environment. This is with good reason; if your store is busy, then it makes sense to have one employee monitoring several stands while customers pay for their items instead of having that same employee tend to them one at a time in a line.
However, another way to make use of that same employee during peak hours also uses mobile payment. Since mobile pay can be done so quickly and easily, the worker can walk around the store and accept payments from customers using a tablet before they even reach the line. And if the lines get long, then the employee can check out customers who are waiting to get queues to move faster.
Be proactive by leveraging customer visit data
For many businesses, Google now offers information on Google Maps and Search to help customers plan their visits to be most efficient. Google may show information including popular times, live visit information, wait times, and typical visit duration.
The popular times graph shows how busy your location typically is during different times of the day based on average popularity over the last several weeks. This offers a great opportunity to run special promotions and discounts during the “off-peak” times to encourage additional foot traffic, delivering an improved service and check-out experience.
Wait time estimate data, which shows how long a customer would have to wait before receiving service during different times of the day, can help managers plan register and service staff accordingly. Anticipating the increase in customer traffic will ensure your team is prepared service customers as quickly as possible without wasting time finding employees to pull off the floor and open a new register.
We are in the Age of the Customer, and customers want it fast and easy. At first glance, these may seem like trivial things to a business, but don’t underestimate the impact that each one of these tips may have on your bottom line. And in case you aren’t sold on this idea, just go to a popular store on a Saturday morning, and while you’re standing in line, take a look at the faces around you. Do they look happy to be there? Do you think they are enjoying the experience of standing in line?