For owners of brick-and-mortar stores, the checkout line provides many opportunities to score both lovepoints and reduce hatepoints. While ecommerce has severely disrupted the in-store shopping experience, many consumers still enjoy it. A recent study from Synqera reported in MediaPost found that more than two-thirds of Americans still want to shop at traditional, brick-and-mortar stores. They enjoy the experience, and don’t want to be locked into the impersonal routine of buying online. However, one part of the brick-and-mortar shopping experience was still riddled with hatepoints: Synqera found the checkout process was the number-one pain point for 73 percent of consumers, and was enough to make many of them abandon the store and turn to online sites.
Here are some of the most common checkout line hatepoints, and how they can be corrected.
- The turtle in line ahead of you. With customers growing increasingly used to ordering online with just a few clicks, waiting in line behind a slow-moving shopper can be exasperating. The hate grows when the person wants to pay with a paper check, and you stand there while they meticulously scribble. What can the store do? Don’t scrimp on staff—make sure you have adequate cashiers on hand to deal with expected traffic volumes, and that your point-of-sale technology is up-to-date so it doesn’t create a bottleneck. Also, many supermarkets are now offering self-checkout areas, where the customer can go at their own pace.
- The turtle operating the cash register. When you get to the register, you’re greeted by a cashier who’s changing the register tape or doing some other bit of housekeeping. In addition, some cashiers are just low-energy and slow in their movements. The solution is training! Remember, your competition isn’t just the supermarket or retail store down the street, it’s Amazon and Walmart online, which offer nearly frictionless checkout.
- The invisible employees. You’re in a store and have a question, and you look around for a sales associate, and you see…. Nobody. Your frustration builds as you search. You might even just walk out.
If you operate a physical store, what separates you from the online retailers and other stores is your level of personal service. Your floor staff should be alert and responsive, and ready to provide the type of service the customer wants. Remember, each customer has their own expectations. By providing each with the service they want, you’ll avoid hatepoints and pile up the lovepoints.
- Being forced to play “checkout line roulette.” Customers at supermarkets and other big stores absolutely hate being forced to choose which checkout line they want to stand in. You know the feeling… you choose a line that looks like it’s going quickly, but then the shopper in front of you turns out to be a turtle. You watch in dismay as shoppers who arrived after you are whisked through the checkout lines you didn’t choose. The solution is to have a “one line for all registers” system, like most banks and airport check-in lines employ. Whether you’re selling retail products or providing services, your customers just want to be treated quickly and fairly.
If you see a common thread in this discussion, you’re right: Ninety percent of the hatepoints in your physical store can be turned into lovepoints by having a well-trained and robust human staff. Human beings are social creatures, and we enjoy interacting with each other if the interactions are positive. In your store, you have the power to shape the customer experience, and you can make it so good they’ll want to come back over and over again.