Long checkout lanes, disorganized shelves, and hard-to-find products lead to frustrated shoppers. And when customers get frustrated, they often give up on a store and walk out, especially if there’s no associate around to help them.
Retailers can avoid walkaways with a few steps to improve the customer experience. Some require better planning, while others will take investment in new technologies. But if executed properly, these measures will keep customers coming back. Here are five steps to take into consideration:
Optimizing Staff Schedules.
Scheduling staff shifts according to store traffic may seem obvious, but stores don’t always get this right. During busy hours, it makes sense to have more employees at checkout lanes to shorten transaction times and at customer service to readily answer questions and accept returns. When things slow down, you need fewer staff at checkout — but still making sure enough workers are available to stock shelves and manage inventory.
Customers are happier when they find what they want quickly. This requires clearly labeling each aisle, keeping shelves neat and avoiding clutter in aisles that makes it hard for shoppers to get through. Cramped spaces are uncomfortable and make it more difficult to find items. Stores should also avoid the practice of shuffling products from one aisle to another, forcing customers expecting to find something in one place to go look elsewhere. This is frustrating and causes people to waste time.
Multiple vs. Single Checkout Queues.
The conventional wisdom has held that a single line for multiple checkouts moves faster, although some shoppers shy away from a single line that looks too long. In any case, a 2016 study finds in favor of multiple, shorter lines. The “single line is better” theory doesn’t take into account human behavior. When cashiers feel responsible for their own queues, they tend to work faster. This is something retail managers and owners should take into account.
Shoppers want to feel safe when entering a store — in the parking lot and inside the building. Visible security with guards and cameras is helpful, but don’t forget cybersecurity. One third (33%) of shoppers would avoid a retailer that has suffered a cyber attack and 20% would stop going there altogether, according to recent research. Shoppers worry their payment card and ID data will be stolen, potentially giving cybercriminals access to their credit and bank accounts.
Proper cash management is essential to well-run stores and to prevent shoppers from walking away in frustration. Automated systems and intelligent cash drawers shortens wait time at checkout lines, accelerate transactions and allow stores to dedicate more staff to answering customer questions and helping them find the items they plan to purchase. An IHL Group study commissioned by APG shows automated cash management saves retailers money while making it possible to improve the customer experience. This means cash management investments can pay for themselves in a short amount of time.