As a retailer, holiday line-ups can be a source of frustration for both customers and staff. With everybody stressed out, people are more impatient than normal and have a lower tolerance for unnecessary delays. While things like the weather are beyond your control, there are a few small things you can do in advance to speed things up during checkout.
1) Display Signs to Anticipate Customer Questions
Training staff to answer questions is always important but common in-store questions can be answered more quickly with clear signage. Not only does this speed up your checkout, it gives employees relief from having to repeat answers over and over throughout the day. Good examples include:
1) Showing your payment options clearly at the entrance and at every till in your store. It's frustrating for a customer to wait in a long line and get to a till only to find out that you don't accept the form of payment they need.
2) A small label for PINpad options like Contactless is a good idea so customers know exactly where to tap cards.
3) Have a preferred method of payment? Showing the logo at the till increases customer usage.
4) If you are new to EMV, friendly reminders at your tills can be very useful - e.g. inserting cards into the chip reader instead of swiping or waiting until the transaction is complete before taking cards out of the reader.
Remember to keep signage simple. You don't want to clutter your till so keep it to one message only. Our creative team has designed several festive EMV instruction signs to keep your lines moving! Download your FREE pdf copy here.
2) Encourage Electronic Payment
If you have a history of big queues, electronic payments will pay-out for you in the long-term. While accepting cash means avoiding processing fees, fewer and fewer people carry cash nowadays. The additional trade-off of slower checkout (perceived worse customer service) and greater human error makes it critical for many retailers to offer forms of electronic payment. And if your point of sale system offers PINpad integration with your processor of choice, you can speed things up even further by eliminating the need for your staff to punch in the invoice amount on the PINpad.
3) Minimize the Routine at Checkout
It's important for checkout staff to have good rapport with customers, but it makes sense to train staff to minimize the routine at checkout during the busy holiday season. We would not suggest changing expected routines such as participation in loyalty membership programs or charitable contributions but it might be worthwhile to avoid consider offering only paper receipts unless a customer requests a digital one. Besides the time required to type in or double-check a customer's email address, printed receipts are a great medium for promoting after-sales offers to encourage repeat visits.
4) Manage your Staffing Needs
The selling environment is never exactly the same but it's always useful for you to review last year's daily sales during the holiday period to see if there are any trends (e.g. which days of the week are busiest, etc.) that will help you better anticipate your staff schedule. Having enough staff on your busiest days will improve your customer service and ultimately help your sales.
5) Automate your Promotions & Discounts
There's no denying that promotions are top-of-mind for consumers during the post-holiday period. Most retailers will offer discounts to attract the Boxing Day crowds but it can be a catch-22 as you need to reduce margins to sell while, at the same time, increase costs to maintain your customer service for lower margin sales.
Besides reduced prices, offering in-store promotions incur indirect costs such as carrying extra holiday staff and paid marketing efforts. It's important to also remember the costs of training staff and merchandising the store with promotions. If not properly handled, promotions will be a source of frustration if staff take longer to ring in sales, there are more pricing errors and customers perceive that the store "mis-communicated" discounts.
As Point of Sale systems have improved, even small retailers can have access to automated discounting now. A good retail point of sale system will allow retailers to quickly set-up discounts and make mass price changes. It should also have many options for promotions so that everything from loyalty points and memberships to group discounting are automated when you ring in sales.
We know what it's like trying to maintain your edge in a sea of competitors. Small changes like the ones above are a no brainer as they can have a big impact on your efficiency without any additional cost. Happy Retailing!
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