When did you last consider the appearance or effectiveness of your retail store checkout counter? When retailers invest in their physical store, the checkout area is often one that is overlooked in favour of bright window displays and clear signage that draw people into the store instead. In fact, the checkout space is often considered to be mainly transactional and undeserving of the love and attention that gets lavished on the other areas of the store.
What many people fail to realise is that the checkout counter offers plenty of untapped potential. As the last point of contact between you and your customers, it is your last chance to capture any last-minute sales and your final opportunity to leave a lasting positive impression on your customers that gets them on board with your brand and likely to return again. Fortunately, there’s lots of things you can do to maximise the potential of your checkout counter. Here’s a few of our favourite ideas.
Make the checkout experience a safe one
Unsurprisingly, most consumers still have high levels of concern regarding their safety when shopping in store. While some studies have shown that consumers generally feel safer visiting smaller, independent retailers than they do larger chain stores, all stores need to take on board the necessity of illustrating their commitment to preventing the spread of Covid-19 and other illnesses. If you want to ensure that your customers return, you need to do everything in your power to make them feel safe. One of the areas where they are potentially at greatest risk is in the queue and at your checkout counter. This is because it is here that they are most likely to be in close proximity to other shoppers and to your staff.
Fortunately, there’s a range of things that you can do to make the checkout process as safe as possible for both your customers and your sales team. Some of the these include:
Installing plexiglass on the countertop to physically separate your sales team from your customers. Have a small area at countertop level through which they can pass products to be scanned and their payment method.
Provide sanitizing options. As we know, clean hands are one of the best ways of stopping the spread of disease. Providing customers with a way to sanitize their hands in the queue and/or at the checkout point is essential, and as they enter your store, is a basic and inexpensive method of increasing your safety provision.
Using outside space for queuing if possible. It is harder for viruses to transmit between patients in the open air. Therefore, if you have any outside space which can be used for queuing, you can utilize this for your customer’s safety.
Use floor markers to specify safe distances. This will help customers know how far apart to stand.
Don’t operate checkouts next to one another. If you have multiple checkouts, don’t open up those directly next door to one another. If you have no choice, consider putting safety screens between them to create a physical barrier between your customers.
Make sure that your POS supports contactless payments. As we know, Covid-19 and other illnesses are easily transferred between people by contact, especially if the infected party hasn’t washed their hands properly. Over the last year, the number of people making contactless payment has risen, and contactless is being actively encouraged by many stores since they require no physical interaction with the payment terminal. Many countries have also taken action to promote contactless payments – a direct result of the dramatic shift in payment preferences made by consumers. One study even found that 48% of consumers said that they would not shop at a store that didn’t offer contactless payments.
However, some retailers are falling behind when it comes to their technology. If your POS and terminal don’t currently support contactless payments, now is the perfect time to upgrade them. Doing so will demonstrate to customers that your retail store is modern, listening to what customers want and dedicated to their convenience and safety, providing an enhanced customer experience. Check out how Hike can support contactless payments and help you to grow your retail business.
Encourage Impulse Buys
The impulse buy is a powerful weapon to have in your sales arsenal. Statistics show that 88.6% of Americans have admitted to impulse shopping, making up to a whopping 156 impulse purchases each, every single year! If you want to get in on that action, you need to be encouraging your customers to snap up some of your products and one of the most effective ways to do this is by placing them near the checkout. One of the reasons for this is that when we spend time waiting at a checkout, we naturally look around us. By placing the right products at the checkout, it’s possible to capitalize on the compulsion to add just one more item to our purchases, without putting much thought into it.
What products make great impulse buys?
Some products are better impulse buys than others. Most customers aren’t going to impulsively spend $50 on something. However, things that only cost a few dollars are often picked up without much consideration, making them a great option to increase your sales income, and then hopefully profit, per customer.
Products that make great impulse buys usually fall into one of five categories. These are:
- Accessories for other products; think batteries, lighters, sticky tape etc.
- Small, inexpensive items, such as candy and single snacks, socks, hair ties and gift cards.
- Sample-sized or travel-sized versions of popular brands and products.
- Amazing deals, such as value sets or deals based on multi-buys.
- Seasonal items, like gift tags, holiday cards.
Make sure you draw attention to your impulse buys through great lighting, signs and plenty of colour! And you can keep track of what’s successful and what’s not by using the inventory and reporting features on your POS.
Utilize the power of social media
Social media has changed the way in which retail stores can market their products and interact with their customers. Shopping is a social activity, so it should come as no surprise that retailers can successfully use social media platforms to both boost awareness of their brand and increase sales. Studies show that while around 72% of companies are now using social technologies in some way, very few are utilising them to their full potential. Unfortunately, this is believed to be because many retailers remain fixed in the mindset that social media is only a sales tool.
Actually, any retailers who intend on using social media must develop a content strategy that places the customer firmly at the centre of it. One of the best ways of doing this is by encouraging your customers to share their own images of your store and of course, of your products. Doing so can raise your profile, get more eyes on your products and secure more visits to your store. Creating your own hashtag will make it easy for you to keep track of which customers are getting involved and the checkout is a perfect opportunity to remind them of how they can find you on social channels too since you’ll have their attention, and they may have time to follow you while they queue. Create clear signs letting them know how to connect with your brand on your social media – Instagram is a particularly important one for showcasing products. You can even explore the option of creating a promotion that links to social sharing.
Share your brand story
When customers buy from your retail store, they aren’t just buying your products, they are also buying into your brand. Using your brand story as a part of your marketing strategy is a great way to connect with customers, gain their trust and loyalty, and keep them coming back time and time again. One of the main reasons for this is because emotions have been found to drive purchases more than logic. A great brand story can attract new customers, and retain them, without the need for excessive and expensive marketing.
Consumers today are much more aware of who they are buying from and want their purchase decisions to align with their personal values and identity. Your brand story is what you want your business to be remembered for. One of the ways in which to determine this is to think about what emotion you want to invoke in your customers when they think about you. Studies have shown that people can forget exactly what is said, but it is much harder to forget the way that the message makes them feel. You can use your story to create a deep, emotional connection with your customers – both in person and in the virtual world with your social media platforms.
What’s this got to do with your checkout counter? The space around your checkout is an ideal area in which to display evidence of your brand story. Waiting in line or the time it takes to pay gives your customer’s minds time to wander, and you can draw their attention with a very visual display of your brand story. One of the best examples of this is Lush, who have very clear messaging that is perfectly in line with their brand values above every checkout.
Choose a POS system that enhances the appearance of your checkout and the checkout experience
You may have invested in a beautifully designed cash wrap for your checkout counter, but this won’t mean a thing if you have a clunky, old-fashioned POS that doesn’t fit with your retail brand. Consumers seriously value the appearance and atmosphere created by stores, and showcasing a shiny, modern and space-saving POS shows that you are prepared to invest in providing the best equipment for their check out experience.
An increasing number of retailers are choosing POS systems that work on tablets or computer, rather than conventional cash registers. Not only do they look more appealing, but they offer you and your customers greater flexibility. You don’t necessarily even need to be tied to a counter, but instead your sales associates can move around the store if necessary, and if you have an ecommerce store and don’t necessarily have your full product range instore, using an iPad-based POS gives your customers the opportunity to digitally browse your catalogue online and potentially make further purchases.
Choosing a great POS can even improve the entire checkout experience. By choosing a cloud-based POS system, you can process payments online and offline, accept gift cards, provide loyalty points, see full customer profiles and send customer receipts by email. You can even see live inventory counts and take a range of payment methods, ensuring that the process is simple, smooth and provides your customers with the best possible experience.
Hike has a range of retail POS hardware packages to choose from, including those that work with iPads and other type of computer, enabling you to choose the one that works best for your store and counter setup. Super-easy to install, it takes just a few minutes to get started with Hike POS.
If you want to show your checkout counter some love and would like to find out more about how Hike POS can help, please visit our website. Alternatively, sign up for your free trial today.