By Jasmine Glasheen
Cashiers create your store’s last impression. They influence customers in the final leg of their shopping journey and, as such, they can make or break their retail experience. But it’s not just an experiential issue…your cashiers also have a measurable impact on your in-store ROI.
Consider that 86% of customers have left a store due to long lines in the past 12 months. So, if your cashiers are too slow, too distracted, or unable to read social cues, you’re looking at a measurable blow to your bottom line.
The role of the cashier is also evolving as more customers use BOPIS, ecommerce, mobile, or a combination of these channels to make purchases. The good news? With the right training and regular check-ins, you can ensure that every cashier on your selling floor is an asset to your retail business. Let’s take a look at how to make it happen.
Evolving Expectations of Retail Cashiers
The retail industry employs 29 million Americans and over half of these employees work in a sales position. What customers expect from retail cashiers, however, has changed with time.
In the past, good customer service meant aggressively greeting the customer upon entry and essentially following them around the store asking questions. The type of vigorous upselling that was so common 15 years ago will chase most customers right out of your store today. The exact behavior that was once considered good salesmanship may alienate introverted, tech-addicted next-gen customers.
Teach Cashiers to Respond to Social Cues
To provide excellent customer service in the modern age, cashiers need to be trained on how to respond to a wide range of customers. This means accepting the reality that some customers prefer a more hands-off approach.
While your store associates shouldn’t sit on their phones while customers browse your store unaided, train them to be friendly and willing to have a conversation about your products without chasing customers out of your store.
Play out different customer interactions and recommend a “best approach” for each during the training process. You may do this through in-person training, or by implementing online or virtual reality training modules where your future store associates can test and learn from different use cases.
This will help your employees know how to address different situations, customer motivations, and personality types on your sales floor––so you can staff your store with interpersonally savvy cashiers that know how to drive repeat business.
- Shoppers are evolving and so should your cashiers. Train them accordingly!
- Accept the reality that some customers prefer a more hands-off approach.
- Role-play scenarios with different types of customers to figure out the best way to interact with various shoppers.
Further Reading: Want more tips on how to deal with the various characters who walk through your doors? Here’s a guide on the most common types of retail customers and how to interact with them.
In-Depth Product Training Creates Brand Advocates
Brick-and-mortar shopping is rarely done for the convenience factor nowadays. Customers visit physical stores for hands-on product knowledge and immersive brand experiences.
And the implementation of retail robotics, such as self-checkout stations, mean that cashiers are being called on to fulfill more high-level functions in-store––functions like interfacing with customers about your products.
Because of this, product knowledge is increasingly important for retail cashiers… especially those working at SMBs, since customers who stop into boutiques and mom and pop shops won’t shell out for high-ticket items unless they’re sold with a human touch.
But it’s not just your customers that expect associates to be well-versed in your products. Next-gen employees also expect interactive training as part of their employer’s value proposition.
In fact, LinkedIn reports that 94% of employees would stay with a company longer if they invested more into training. Most cashiers will need around 40 hours of register training to become proficient.
- Modern shoppers who visit retail stores often feel like they’re more knowledgable than in-store staff.
- Address this by conducting in-depth training that goes beyond basic product knowledge.
- Having a competitive training program also helps you attract and retain your employees. If you want to keep your best staff, invest in their training.
Keep Materials to Reference on Hand
Here’s something you may not want to admit: It’s unrealistic to expect all of your cashiers to be well-versed on every single product you carry in-store. This is especially true if you hire students, seasonal employees, or part-time associates. But you never get another chance to create a first impression of your store and, the reality is, if an employee is on your sales floor they will be expected to interface with customers.
Fortunately, this doesn’t have to have a detrimental impact on your in-store customer experience.
A Product Guide enables your associates to self-train in their downtime between customers. A Product Guide is a binder with:
- descriptions of any new items,
- a few shareable information tidbits on each product,
- additional products to recommend with the purchase,
- and product usage, care, and styling instructions.
Keep the guide at your cash wrap stand and give cashiers a few minutes to read the binder each day after they clock in. This will keep your team on the same page, and it will ensure that your part-time cashiers are as prepared to serve customers as your long-term employees.
Remember, there’s nothing wrong with training your staff to say “let me check on that for you” instead of trying to sound more knowledgeable than they are and potentially giving customers false information––a dangerous game when customers can quickly fact-check every statement on their mobile phone.
- Keep product cheat sheets handy — ideally at the cash wrap or breakroom
- There’s nothing wrong with training your staff to say “let me check on that for you” instead of pretending to know the answer and giving shoppers the wrong info.
Make Sure the Training Fits the Platform
Believe it or not, cashier training isn’t a one-size-fits-all proposition. Training cashiers to use a mobile POS station vs a cash wrap stand, for instance, are two very different things.
Your mobile cashiers will need to be proactive and catch customers before they leave due to long line wait times. Since most American consumers are only willing to wait up to eight minutes in line before abandoning their cars, you’ll want to train cashiers using mobile POS systems to catch the customers who have been waiting longest during busy hours before they run for the hills.
While cashiers at your cash wrap stand may need to know how to package products to prevent breakage, how to wrap presents (if it’s a service you offer), and how to quickly pull up SKU numbers for items that are missing stickers. Never ask a cashier to provide a service like gift-wrapping who hasn’t been properly trained. (Trust me, there were a lot of disappointed customers when they threw me into gift-wrapping retail cosmetics during holiday season back in the day.)
The bottom line? If it’s a service you offer and it impacts your customer experience, it’s worth providing proper training first.
- The kind of training your cashiers receive should be tailored to the POS platform that they’re using, as well as the checkout process.
- Cashiers behind the cash wrap, for example, should be trained differently than those using mobile POS systems.
Bringing It All Together
There’s a lot more to training cashiers than you may have realized. Although the above suggestions may tack on a few more hours in training than you intended to provide, giving employees access to the education they need to do their jobs properly is key to creating a competitive in-store experience. When your associates are happy, well-trained, and engaged, your customers (and thus your bottom line) reap the benefits.
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+.