Enhancing the in-store checkout experience with a 3 pronged approach

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In-store customer experience is the most important factor to increase customer traction and loyalty. It is highly relevant to the current scenario of the retail industry where there is a constant tussle between the e-Commerce and brick-and-mortar players. As pure play online retailers are leaving no stone unturned to grab a large chunk of the market share, brick-and-mortar businesses are being asked all sort of questions regarding their survival or doom.

However big a pure play online retail business gets, it cannot take away the value of physical stores. Having said that, brick-and-mortar retailers cannot just continue doing business the old fashioned way, waiting to get bought or to get shut. They have to evolve their strategies and processes thus ensuring to stay fit and firm in the game. And to do this, the best weapon would be to enhance their customer experience.

While there are umpteen factors that play a role in creating a wholesome experience for shoppers and these need to be looked at meticulously, the in-store checkout experience could be rated higher in importance than many others. Also, providing the best check out experience in the store can pose a stiff challenge, especially during peak seasons and rush hours. But this can be simplified with the 3 pronged approach – the right people using the right technology to drive the processes right.

To elaborate, there are effective and exciting technologies that provide solutions such as mobile point-of-sale (POS), mobile payments, self-checkouts, quick billing to ease the billing process at the check-out counter. Most of these technologies enable automation of operations thus reducing the effort of manually done processes and increasing the speed of transaction. Mobile POS systems can easily help retail brands bust lengthy queues by enabling handheld devices to be used for scanning products, billing and even registering customers for customer relationship management. Moreover, this can be done when the customer is still picking up products and has not yet entered the checkout queue. Another revolutionary technology that has been a game-changer in the payments industry is ‘mobile payments’. This has not only speeded up payment processes by enabling payments through mobile phones or mobile wallets, but also has allowed customers to travel cashless and cardless, making it beneficial for both retailers and customers. Self-checkout counters have been a recent development and implemented by biggies like Amazon. This almost gets rid of the physical check-out counter by enabling shoppers to use their mobile apps for billing which could be integrated with mobile wallets or bank accounts to handle payments directly.

But what good are these solutions if the people that use them aren’t aware of the capabilities of the technology available at their disposal? Every new technology will firstly need acceptance from those who are going to use it, plus the right attitude to learn and use it efficiently. Further, the store staff may know how to use the software right but what if they are not helpful and easily approachable or don’t have the right inter-personal skills? So the right people with the right attitude who are well trained in all aspects and equipped with the right technology solutions can ensure that the operations and processes required to handle check-out are carried out the right way, with ease and with minimal complications. A win-win situation for both – customers who are provided with the right check-out experience and retail businesses who will have fewer lost sales.

Are You Working On Your Customer Experience Shelf Life?

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The advent of modern technology has added a new dimension to the way retail businesses operate. There has been a significant shift from product or operation based retailing to a more customer centric one. Focus on customer experience has become the new norm and the prime necessity for every retail business for sustenance and growth. This is a new challenge for retailers – to constantly meet expectations and thus sustain the customer experience ‘shelf life’.

Customers today, have the power of choice – a widespread range of products and alternatives, an unending list of retailers and multiple channels to shop from – they can choose from and use several permutations and combinations, thus forcing the imperative need for retailers to constantly deliver the best customer experience throughout the retail customer journey.

Every product has a shelf life, some last long and some don’t. So also, the customer experience has a shelf life; but unlike products, retailers can work towards extending its length and retaining it. To do this, retailers need to quickly adapt to latest industry trends. They must enhance their business models by allowing infusion of emerging technologies in their operations. Below are a few tips on how this could be done:

–         having omni-channel capabilities for ensuring overall presence

–         using mobile POS counters for quick customer service

–         acquiring and using customer feedback to enhance the shopping experience

–         employing effective CRM solutions to foster brand loyalty

–         planning and executing customer centric marketing and promotions campaigns

–         using the right tools for merchandise and inventory management

–         engaging with the customers using social media and other channels

–         capturing, analyzing and integrating real-time business data to

In this dynamic, technology influenced and highly competitive retail environment, it is essential for retail businesses to stand out and surpass the competition in delivering and sustaining customer experience thereby, working towards longer customer experience shelf lives. This will enable retailers to not only retain existing customers, but also acquire more by virtue of goodwill fostered amongst the current ones.

Online In-Store – Shopper’s Paradise

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Smartphones are getting smarter and making their users more savvy shoppers. Today, customers research, review, compare, purchase products online and in-store. Research shows more than 80% shoppers use their smartphones in-store, while shopping. The customer’s mobile is the starting point of most shopping journeys. It begins with searching about the various categories of interest. The search leads to the customer browsing deeper into the product information, while in the physical store, and ready to make the purchase.

Most shoppers use their phones to ascertain pre-shopping information like searching the store location and timings, comparing prices and understanding the store or brand specific promotions and ensuring the product availability at the store. Customers who use mobiles more often buy more. This is seen across product categories like health and beauty, electronics, home care and appliances. Browsing through substantial product information and reviews surreptitiously influences customers positively and removes any doubts regarding a purchase. Sometimes, customers also buy experience enhancing accompaniments for the selected products after reading about them online.

Mobile technology in retail is impacting a broad spectrum of business functions such as campaign and promotion management, customer service and acquisition, retention and loyalty management, space planning and optimization, operational processes, demand and supply forecasting, inventory management, security management, etc. Retailers are focusing strongly on mobile connect and analytics to gain actionable customer insights out of the enterprise data. For this, mobile technology like mPOS and beacons are being introduced into the retail store to deliver superior shopping experiences.