“A customer walks in your store, picks up some items and compares their prices. Then she puts them back on the shelves and picks another one to compare the quality. After a few moments considering, she goes back to her first choices. The process may repeat a few times and she finally walks to the checkout counter with a trolley full of goods. Yes, you are about to close the deal. But, out of the blue, she walks out without buying anything.”
Does this sound familiar to you? Sadly, this is a pretty common scenario when the traffic at rush hours is incredibly high. Long waiting line, slow or errored payment transaction upset the customers and make them leave, especially the ones who are in a hurry.
If you are running a retail store and have the same problems, there are a few things you can consider to decrease dropping rate at your checkout counter.
1. Colorize your checkout lane
Don’t get me wrong! You don’t need to paint your checkout lane with color. Otherwise, transfer the norm into something interesting. No one wants to wait but if it’s inevitable, you can change it into a more positive experience.
Learn from Disney – they’re masters at this. Look at the long queue for the popular rides in Disneyland. So how does Disney cut the frustration and keep their visitors happy while waiting in line?
Here are 3 (out of many) things Disney do:
Activities: the visitors who wait in line just not idly wait – that’s definitely boring. Instead, they can take part in “warm-up activities”: burst virtual water balloons, find hidden Mickeys, text jokes that may be used in the comedy show later. And you see Disney characters walk around, talk and take photos with people? Yes, that’s another trick to entertain people while they wait.
Information: if people know how much they will have to wait, they will become less anxious. Disney has signs in its parks to tell visitors how much time they may have to wait for rides and attractions. It helps manage expectations: if the sign says the expected wait time is 40 minute when in reality it’s half an hour, people will feel much better thinking they’re 10 minutes ahead.
Justice: last but not least, a very important thing: guarantee “First come, first served”. The visitors already have to wait for long, don’t make them wait any longer for some rude one who abruptly cuts the line. That will upset them even more because “it’s not fair” and they can’t enjoy the rest with such negative feeling.
Now things you can do without hundreds of employees and huge budget like Disney:
– Enlarge and keep the lanes clean, make sure it’s comfortable for your customers to stand in line
– Do anything to distract customers from counting seconds: decorate the wall behind the counters with pictures or a big screen showing humorous ads about your products, provide a small shelf with magazines and your catalogs,…
– If possible, let one of your staff manage the waiting line, talk to people and inform them of the estimated time they have to wait
– Cashiers’ smiles or small acts of friendliness – simple but very effective, to help light up the mood of customers and make them enjoy their shopping experience more. And have you ever considered lively uniform for your staff? That little change may bring huge amusement to the shoppers.
– And final, “First come, first served” ALWAYS! If someone cuts the line, politely ask them to go back and wait.
2. Save and increase sales with promotions and impulse items
Every shopper loves discounts. A discount of 30 – 50% is almost irresistible to most female. Even if they don’t really need the promotional items at the purchasing point, they still have a tendency to buy them. All you need to do is picking out some products that are at peak sale-off, bring them to your checkout area – and pull customer’s attention from waiting to “tasty offers”.
Along with those, bring the small items people often buy on the spur of the moment or forget until last minutes to the counter as well. When customers realize “Oh I forgot something”, either case happens: one, they tell themselves they will get it next time (high chance that they will forget it next time and you lose a sales chance); two, they go back for it, which will put them at the end of the waiting line…again (this sounds like a nightmare to them, but you can’t just wait while the next customer wants to check out fast too). The ideal scenario is that they can get these items right away at the counter. It’s a clever way of cross-sale.
3. Optimize your POS system
It seems obvious but waiting is still waiting, especially for customers with low quantity orders. If there’s anything you can do to cut down it, do it. A “high speed, high accuracy” POS system will be your right-wing man in this case.
It calculates the grand total accurately so you don’t waste time checking it over and over.
It works fast with an optimized checkout process so you can keep your line moving.
And if it provides your customers the flexibility to shop what they want how they want (pick-up at store, home delivery, wish-list for later purchase), and pay in different ways (mix payment methods, make a deposit or use reward points), that’ll be likely to raise your customer satisfaction.
The retail world is always competitive – each wishes for more customers. Customers always have more than one option – they can leave your shop anytime, even at the checkout counter. With the above suggestions, you can cut down on the waiting time, lift up their shopping experience to keep them close and keep your competitors at bay.
1. A. Pawlowski, 2008, ‘Queuing psychology: Can waiting in line be fun’, CNN. Available from http://edition.cnn.com/2008/TECH/science/11/20/queuing.psychology/