The brick-and-mortar checkout process used to be pretty standard across the board. Merchants would handle cash transactions, accept checks, or process credit card payments at a cash register.
As retail technology continues to advance, it’s morphing the checkout experience in the process. And as ecommerce continues to stake its claim in retail, stores have to compete with the easy checkout process and online shopping experience offers.
Let’s take a look at how you can make the checkout process a little quicker so you can capture a lot more sales.
1. Use POS integrated payments
Integrating your point of sale system with your payment processor eliminates the need to manually key in transaction data at checkout. When your POS and payments solutions are tightly connected, your cashiers no longer have to enter the sale amount onto your POS. Data flows smoothly from one system to the next, which then streamlines the checkout process.
Integrated payments also minimizes human error and confusion, so your team can ring up sales quickly and easily.
2. Accommodate different forms of payment and checkout preferences
Perhaps the biggest move you can make to speed up the checkout process is to accommodate various payment methods and offer different checkout options. Today, consumers can pay with more than just cash or card. With virtual wallets and in-store fulfillment among some of the few new payment and checkout options, it’s important to accommodate as many as you can so that customers can check out efficiently.
More consumers are armed with smartphones, and the number of people who use mobile payment methods is also on the rise. In fact, it’s expected to be used by 56% of the consumer population in 2020, according to Mobile Payments World.
Not only does accepting mobile payments accommodate shoppers who are used to paying this way, but you can also capture sales when customers leave their wallets at home or have a card that gets declined.
Here are some mobile pay/virtual wallets to consider for your store:
Some major retailers have even gone as far as creating their own mobile apps that allow shoppers to purchase for their orders from their phone.
Contactless card readers have been around for a while, but they’re only recently becoming more popular in retail stores. The tap-and-pay technology has been adopted by many major credit card companies, and it’s a much quicker option than the chip reader (which is a bit more time-consuming than a simple swipe of the stripe).
Buy online, pick up in store (BOPIS)
67% of shoppers use the BOPIS option when shopping, according to Kibo’s 2018 Consumer Trends Report – Engaging the Informed Consumer. This dramatically decreases the checkout time because all customers have to do is come to the store and pick up their order.
Retailers can streamline this process by directing BOPIS to a different checkout line or register. REI, for example, sends BOPIS shoppers to the returns and exchanges line, which is typically shorter.
Allowing for BOPIS orders can help you quicken the checkout process and simultaneously increase sales. 15% of Target’s 2015 online orders were in-store pick-ups, and we’re willing to bet that number has jumped since then.
Okay — not exactly a payment method, but equipping sales associates with wireless payment terminals can help keep the checkout process fast and painless. Plus, it means that customers can check out anywhere in the store, which eliminates lines and creates a more seamless experience.
That’s how Vend homeware retailer the Borough Kitchen combats long lines in-store. They can quickly add payment terminals to the mix if the store’s busy and lines are getting longer.
There’s something empowering about being able to check yourself out for a purchase at a store. Not to mention, it’s a lot quicker for your customers and it requires less attention from employees on the floor so they can focus on converting in-store browsers.
Self-checkout was once a grocery store tactic, but other verticals have adopted the checkout option as well. Restaurants have incorporated self-ordering and payment kiosks; you’ll see these in airports worldwide, as well as establishments elsewhere. Sam’s Club has a self-checkout app customers can use to scan and pay for items themselves.
Unsurprisingly, self-checkout users skew younger, according to data from Statista, so if you cater to a more senior customer, this doesn’t need to be a priority for you.
3. Email receipts
Digital receipts are one way to go green, but they’re also helpful in streamlining the checkout process. For starters, customers don’t have to wait for the receipt to print out. And associates don’t need to stop and refill the receipt printer — which can be especially aggravating for customers who are waiting in line.
But besides helping you quicken the checkout process, email receipts can also help your business. They continue the conversation with customers, and when approached strategically, they present excellent upsell and cross-promotional opportunities. 70% of people take advantage of coupons or discounts promoted through email, reports Forbes. You’ll also reduce your carbon footprint (and some extra expenses) in the process.
4. Optimize your staff schedules
Another common reason for long wait times at checkout? There aren’t enough people to man your registers. When you have too many shoppers but not enough cashiers, lines will form and it’ll take much longer to get to each customer.
You can prevent this from happening by looking at your store data and identifying your peak hours. If your POS system has reporting capabilities, see if you can view sales per hour and use that information to figure out the times of day that you have the most transactions.
This should give you some insights that can help you optimize your staff’s schedules. For example, if you know that you typically have more sales during noontime, then make it a point to assign more shifts during that period.
5. Train staff adequately
You can have the most advanced hardware and software and still suffer from a lengthy checkout process. It’s crucial to remember who is operating the technology and make them a part of checkout optimization. Retailers should train staff to keep this process fast and painless for customers.
Retail sales associates need to be reminded and properly informed on how to expedite the checkout process without making shoppers feel rushed. When it comes to adopting new technology, like mobile payment terminals, staff should be thoroughly trained on how to use the tools.
Explain to them the goals of making the checkout process more efficient, the why behind it, and how they can play a role in achieving that objective.
6. Consider your internet connection
Sometimes a faster checkout is as simple as faster internet. If you’re operating on the cloud, a fast and reliable connection is absolutely essential to keeping things moving.
If your POS commonly gets stuck loading during checkout, it might be time to upgrade your connection. Check to see if there’s fiber optic available in your area, as it’s widely known to be faster and more reliable than a typical broadband connection. A network extender can also help if there are certain areas of your store that have a weaker connection, usually spots located further away from your router.
7. Upgrade your POS
Just like upgrading your WiFi connection can improve the checkout process, so can an upgrade to your POS technology. There are tons of options out on the market, but it’s best to find one that’s intuitive and easy to learn for in-store associates. A cumbersome POS that’s difficult to use has the potential to frustrate both your employees and your customers.
Some POS options can save customer data as well, which can speed things up during transactions. Your staff won’t need to ask for as much information, and sometimes payment information or preferences can be stored for future use.
Need help choosing the right POS for your retail business? We’ve put together a few resources:
- Everything You Need to Know About POS Terminals
- Top 7 Mistakes Retailers Make When Choosing a POS System
- How to Choose a Point-of-Sale for Your Business
- Cash Registers vs. POS Systems: How to Tell Which Is Right for Your Retail Biz
- 22 POS Features to Look for in a Retail Management System
If you need more info on how to effectively compare different point of sale solutions, download Vend’s POS Buyer’s Guide. In this resource, you will learn the 7 secrets to find a reliable POS system, and avoid the costly mistakes most retailers make when choosing a new retail platform.
In it you’ll learn:
- How to budget for your POS system
- How to find and vet providers
- How to get the most out of the solution
The checkout process is a crucial component of the overall customer experience, so don’t overlook it. If you haven’t evaluated your checkout experience in a while, it’s high time to do it. Assesss your process, equipment, and staff knowledge then identify areas of improvement.
Good luck and happy selling!
About Francesca Nicasio
Francesca Nicasio is Vend's Retail Expert and Content Strategist. She writes about trends, tips, and other cool things that enable retailers to increase sales, serve customers better, and be more awesome overall. She's also the author of Retail Survival of the Fittest, a free eBook to help retailers future-proof their stores. Connect with her on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Google+.