Guest contribution • 10.09.2019

Distract or divert!

How to engage customers at the checkout

Retailers and retail designers spend a considerable amount of time discussing and juggling a crucial aspect of the customer experience at the point of purchase: the checkout.

To be fair, it’s not easy to turn the moment when customers have to pull out their wallet and hand over money into a positive conclusion of the shopping experience. But there are ways to do just that.

Wait times affect your customers’ experience 

First of all, checkouts need to be easy and intuitively to find. It needs to anticipate customers’ needs by featuring a small selection of low-commitment product options, and it must be clearly visible. What’s more, the checkout area should be “family-friendly” with wide aisles that can easily accommodate a shopping cart, a stroller, plus two kids bustling around. Shopping with children is challenging enough, don’t make it even harder or parents will get annoyed and find ways to stay away.

There is also nothing more frustrating than waiting in a long line at the only open checkout counter, while all other checkout lanes are closed. Checkout lines need to be monitored for efficiency. Retailers must communicate that they value their customers’ time.

Business woman sitting at a desk in front of a skyline...
Aida Masdeu is an international shopper marketing consultant with experience in market research, branding and innovative business development. She was the First European woman entrepreneur in Qatar introducing western brands in the Gulf region market.
Source: Cristobal Lopez

During my time at Envirosell – run by shopping and marketing guru Paco Underhill –, we conducted studies showing that when checkout lines last less than three minutes, 75 percent of consumers looked more favorably on the service they received. But when a wait takes longer than three minutes, the shopper’s perception changes and the overall shopping satisfaction drops dramatically. Of course, shoppers behave differently in New York, Atlanta, Munich or Barcelona, but wait times obviously have a significant impact on satisfaction.

What does that mean for structuring the checkout process? We can either add more service – oriented sales associates at checkout lines or we can manage lines better with the help of technologies such as cashierless checkouts, self-service checkouts, self-scanning solutions and mobile payment options.

Entertaining with great bargains

We need to manage perceived versus actual wait times better by finding ways to either distract or divert our customers’ attention away from the wait. Think of Disney, or use technology to inform customers how long the wait might be. Shoppers need to know what to expect while they are waiting in line.

Granted, shoppers are more distracted than ever using their smartphones while waiting in line – checking their Instagram account or comparing prices online. It keeps getting harder for front-end categories to attract the customer’s attention.

As incredible as it may seem, 70 percent of what we buy are impulse purchases! Use promotions with a sense of urgency, especially during the holiday season: “Buy it now before it’s gone!” Think of Zara’s successful business model. The retailer always offers something new, unique and exciting at the right price, with changes at least every couple of weeks.

Many shoppers are influenced by social media, mobile apps or marketing campaigns. Keep your customers updated on novelties, promotions and limited edition products. And thanks to location-based marketing options, you can reach your customers’ smartphones when they’re in the store.

Personalization & personnel

And last but not least, retailers need to train their associates to become problem solvers and use data to personalize the checkout, or soon they will be find themselves replaced by self-checkouts. Consumers “buy” the front staff before they buy a product. If the sales associates at a supermarket are not up to customers’ expectations, they’ll shop somewhere else.

It is easy to personalize the shopping experience in a small town where sales associates are neighbors and acquaintances, but it becomes more challenging in a big city. That is why retailers have to make great use of data to get to know their customers better. That’s also how sales associates get the information they need to personalize the shopping experience. Shoppers want to feel welcome, heard and understood.

Retailers will compete for empathetic employees capable of building long-lasting relationships driven by loyalty; they should reward them accordingly.

It is a nice touch to hire experienced seasonal employees to do a fantastic job at gift-wrapping. If you set up a well-equipped designated gift-wrapping station in the checkout zone, never use the cash desk itself as a wrapping station. It can be the kiss of death if the checkout process slows down during the holiday because of that.

And for the icing on the cake: Don’t forget to reward your customers and thank them for their visit with an eco-friendly, fun and precious bag to extend their visit. After all, your customers can become your greatest brand ambassadors.

“Retailers will compete for empathetic employees capable of building long-lasting relationships.” Aida Masdeu
Author: Aida Masdeu, consumer behavior analyst & shopper marketing consultant

related articles:

popular articles:

Thumbnail-Photo: 75 % of millennials abandon in-store purchases...
14.11.2019   #customer satisfaction #brick and mortar retail

75 % of millennials abandon in-store purchases

Zebra study: out-of-stocks drive shoppers to online

Zebra Technologies Corporation today revealed the results of its 12th annual Global Shopper Study, the industry’s only market tracker that analyzes the attitudinal behavior of shoppers, retail associates and retail executives and examines the ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Britain’s thrifty young fashionistas
24.01.2020   #customer satisfaction #sustainability

Britain’s thrifty young fashionistas

More than half of 25-34-year-olds buy second-hand clothes

Savvy young Brits are buying, selling, mending, swapping and renting their clothes, according to the latest research from Mintel.‘Thrifting’ is the way forward among young British fashion shoppers, as Mintel research shows that in the ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Blind Date is so yesterday! Know your customers!...
13.01.2020   #customer satisfaction #customer relationship management

Blind Date is so yesterday! Know your customers!

Customer loyalty: Personalizing your customer communications – across all channels

Is brand loyalty dead? These days, consumers no longer buy the same brand of goods for life. They want personalized offers for products that meet their specific needs. That’s why it is more important than ever for retailers to retain and ...

Thumbnail-Photo: All Influencer Marketing Conference 2020
11.12.2019   #digital marketing #marketing planing

All Influencer Marketing Conference 2020

The All Influencer Marketing Conference will take place for the fourth time on 19 March 2020 at the ICM Munich.

Influencer marketing is becoming more and more important! The importance of this discipline has rapidly increased in the marketing plan and almost every company is doing influencer marketing or is planning to do so in the near future. Why? No ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Retail problems: We’ve got the premises but where are the customers?...
04.11.2019   #customer satisfaction #pos marketing

Retail problems: We’ve got the premises but where are the customers?

The Trendforum Retail 2019 highlighted multi-use retail developments

At the Trendforum Retail on October 9 &10, 2019, in Schwalbach near Frankfurt am Main, speakers and visitors examined how brick and mortar retailers can attract, keep and excite customers.Interested event participants were given a tour by Marcus ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Spending on womens clothing to increase
25.10.2019   #marketing research #customer analysis

Spending on women's clothing to increase

Freedonia Focus Report forecasts rising demand for high-end items in the USA

US retail demand for women's clothing is forecast to increase 1.9 percent per year in nominal terms through 2023, according to Women's Clothing: United States, a report recently released by Freedonia Focus Reports. Ongoing population ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Americans expect privacy controls
03.02.2020   #customer satisfaction #marketing research

Americans expect privacy controls

4 out of 5 people want a privacy law to protect personal data

73 percent of people would pay more to online services companies to ensure they did not sell or use their data for marketing, while 77 percent would stop shopping at their favorite retailer altogether if the retailer did not keep their personal data ...

Thumbnail-Photo: AllFacebook Marketing Conference 2020
11.12.2019   #marketing planing #event

AllFacebook Marketing Conference 2020

The Social Media Marketing Conference will take place in March 2020 in Munich

3 days, 4 stages, more than 40 speakers, 1000+ participants and 100% social media marketing for companies. At the AllFacebook Marketing Conference from March 17 to 19, 2020 in Munich, Germany, industry participants will meet, exchange ideas and ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Returns costing retailers billions each year...
09.01.2020   #online trading #dispatch

Returns costing retailers billions each year

B-Stock reveals the most returned Christmas gifts

The number of products being sent back on National Returns Day (2nd January) were expected to be 72 percent higher than the average day in December according to the Royal Mail - contributing massively to the yearly total of £60 billion worth ...

Thumbnail-Photo: E-Commerce Day 2020 made by real.de
13.01.2020   #online trading #e-commerce

E-Commerce Day 2020 made by real.de

11 years e-Commerce Day in Cologne!

The e-Commerce Day - made by real.de, offers online retailers, manufacturers and interested parties the opportunity to learn about the latest trends, the latest developments and interesting features in e-commerce and to exchange information with ...

Supplier

APG Cash Drawer
APG Cash Drawer
4 The Drove
BN9 0LA Newhaven
Mood Media GmbH
Mood Media GmbH
Wandalenweg 30
20097 Hamburg
VKF Renzel GmbH
VKF Renzel GmbH
Im Geer 15
46419 Isselburg
POS TUNING Udo Voßhenrich GmbH & Co KG
POS TUNING Udo Voßhenrich GmbH & Co KG
Am Zubringer 8
32107 Bad Salzuflen