6 Ways To Improve Your Customer’s Retail Checkout Experience
After several years of ascendance for online shopping, consumers are returning to brick-and-mortar stores to do their shopping. Shopping for clothing and food online has always been a roll of the dice, as you can’t try on the pants or squeeze the avocados to check ripeness.
Shoppers put up with the risk of disappointment when shopping online because of their concern for their health and safety. As the pandemic begins to fade, despite new COVID variants erupting unpredictably, consumers want to recapture the tactile experience and fun of in-person shopping.
Retailers should recognize that one thing online shopping has going for it is extraordinary convenience. You search for exactly what you want, place it in your virtual cart, and click through to checkout, which proceeds immediately.
However, online shopping has an extraordinary level of abandoned shopping carts. Customers get distracted by texts or email notifications and decide they can save their cart and come back later. If they abandon a cart in a brick-and-mortar retail establishment, however, it’s more likely that they’ve truly abandoned their items and don’t intend to return. Most likely, they’ll go elsewhere to purchase the goods they need.
Why would retail customers abandon their carts? Often, it’s because they’ve had a poor customer experience at checkout. Long lines, old-fashioned POS systems, and limited payment options can cause customers to throw their hands up and leave.
Don’t let a shopper’s delight at finding just the right dress, gift, or tool dissipate because of a frustrating or prolonged checkout process. Try some of these six ways to improve your customer’s retail checkout experience.
Reduce Waiting Time
Waiting in line is frustrating and quickly sours customers on their experience in your store. It isn’t always the lady who insists on writing a physical check for her purchase causing the problem, either. Configure your store to reduce checkout times by adding enough lanes to manage the volume of customers you see.
Update your POS system to enable quick transactions. Use a system that can coordinate with loyalty programs so customers can present their phones, give their phone numbers, or show their loyalty cards to quickly complete their discounted purchase.
Mobile systems that work with tablets free up staff to walk around and assist shoppers who are ready to complete their purchases. Provide checkout stations with secured tablets for at-the-counter purchases, where staff may bag the customer’s selections. You may want to allow the tablet to detach for walking around when things get busy.
Another straightforward way to make lines move faster is to encourage customers to use their own reusable bags. This shopping choice limits the need to separate plastic bags or open paper ones and may reduce your costs, too, as you’ll use fewer store-provided bags.
Accept Your Customer’s Preferred Payment Method
No customer wants to patiently wait in line for 20 minutes only to discover you won’t accept their preferred payment method. They’ll remember that frustration and shop somewhere else next time, even if they are happy with their actual purchase.
Retailers must provide flexibility in payment methods to include NFC for mobile payments and “tap and pay” for cards with integrated chips. These methods are safer than swiping a card, as someone with nefarious intent could have installed a skimmer without your knowledge.
Even with these upgrades, you should also maintain the ability to accept good old-fashioned cash and checks—though nearly all customers now prefer contact-free payment methods.
Post a notice with branded stickers that show which credit cards you accept at your entrance to avoid giving customers an unwelcome surprise when they reach the checkout station.
Synchronize Retail and Online Experiences
Don’t tell a customer that they can go online to find items not available in the store unless you are entirely certain they can. Synchronize your in-store and online experiences with a POS system that tracks inventory in real-time.
The flipside is to make sure you have the products customers are putting in their online carts in stock and that you set the items aside in a designated area. Keep them properly labeled so they don’t disappear between the time the customer places their order and when your staff sends the notification that says it’s ready for pick up.
The hybrid shopping experience of buying online and picking up in-store is here to stay. Your data needs to keep up, and your system should also ensure that loyal customers receive the discounts they expect.
Make Self-Checkout More Accessible
Self-checkout is a boon for customers and retailers alike when it works correctly. Customers can become frustrated if they must wait for assistance or when they can’t easily reach and read your card reader.
Another way to improve your customer’s checkout experience is to position your credit card machine stands conveniently at self-checkout stations. Use credit card machine holders that swivel and tilt so your customers can make using their phones or cards more comfortable and convenient.
Ensure your self-checkout stations are large enough to hold all your customer’s purchases and that your clerks have pre-opened several of those plastic bags that come in packs and are so hard to separate.
Make sure that there are enough self-checkout lanes to prevent long lines from forming and that there is dedicated staff close by to handle things like checking IDs for liquor purchases. Consumers like to use self-checkout as a way of avoiding checkout lines and will become irritated if the self-checkout doesn’t provide the faster exit they expect.
Make Drive-Through Payments Contact Free
Recent years have made customers reluctant to hand their credit cards over to allow your clerks to swipe them. This hesitancy can be problematic at the drive-through window. Investing in hand-held credit card machine holders that the person working the window can hang onto while the customer inserts, taps, or swipes their own card makes things simple.
Send Digital Receipts
Most retailers now collect customer information, including email addresses and phone numbers for loyalty programs, coupons, and special offers. Don’t make them tell you twice. If you have a customer’s email address, provide the option for consumers to choose digital receipts. It may seem like a small thing, but not making customers wait for a physical printout will save time for all the customers waiting in line at your checkout counter.