In today’s retail businesses, customer’s experience takes the main focus of the whole business. With this regard, standing in the queue takes lot of patience of the customers to get the bill done on the counters and exit from the store for the next activity lined up. Researchers in the field have opined that customers consistently report great aversion to having to wait at supermarket (and other) checkouts leading to loss of sales and hence profitability. Retailers need to bridge the gap between the idle time and the intended activity in order to boost sales.
Situations which can lead to Revenue loss
“Poor management of the checkout process not only results in the inefficient deployment of resources, but it can also impact potential sales – deterring customers from making full use of their shopping time, or worse giving rise to customers abandoning goods in the aisles. Customer can be negative resultant sale loss,” says IT Head, Kunwar Naresh of Lilliput Kids Wear.
The proposition that customers intensely and universally dislike queuing is based on the idea that people typically experience emotional discomfort (notably feelings of being cramped and crowded and of frustration at not being able to get away) while waiting-in-line. There are various reasons when customers would not like to stand in a queue. For example:
When people have to buy less quantity of products
During weekends—grocery stores-people avoid going to stores with long queues and prefer to buy from alternative shops or time
Frequent Hardware or Software problems can also lead to revenue losses
Also in places like Big Bazaars and other grocery shops where promotions run on hourly basis like 4-6 pm, 6-8pm etc, the role of technology plays a vital role to upgrade the system at POS with the new promotion schemes. Delay in such services earns wastage of time of the customer with no valid reasons.
Standardized barcodes. Most barcodes are not recognized by the retailer's scanning software, making it difficult to bill. Associates have to manually type in the product number/description and identify the product from a long list which is thrown back to them. This lengthens the billing time.
Associate training. With high attrition rate, training the associates at the till is a challenge which most retailers face. This increases the billing time , since it takes longer tie for associate to operate the till software and often commit errors which have to be overridden by supervisors , thus increasing the entire billing time
No of tills(cash counter) to the traffic ratio. Lesser number of tills or non-functional tills adds to the chaos resulting in a longer queue.
For Speedy Billing
The time spend by the customers in the long queue is the ‘idle time’ or the blank space where customers feel that such intervals are perceived as the stolen time from his life to do the desired activities.
Speeding-up checkout service systems through hardware and software solutions like LS Retail, SAP Triversity , Oracle 360 Commerce , NCR ,IBM SurePOS, Retail Pro (for fashion stores), Transight, Torex BE POS (for super market).
According to Radhesh Shenoy, Director, Business Development, Integrated Retail Management Consulting Pvt Ltd"Retail Pro and Torex can be used on a mobile handheld device, where a customer’s retail sales ticket can be generated and the customer can go through a rapid checkout at the check out lane."
A typical POS software has two -three components
1. POS - the hardware /software at the checkout
2. POS Back Office- handles functions such as reporting, time and attendance management, file maintenance, cash management, label and sign printing and store level inventory control
3. POS Central Office - This provides ability to have a centralized control over all the store POS from the corporate.
Take some advice!!
According to a retail consultant of a renowned firm some of the solutions for queue busting:
Infotainment at the checkout queue: If the customers are occupied/entertained for instance-- at POS terminals visual stimuli-- displays or promotional schemes keeps the customer busy allegedly prevent mental idleness, without making him realize that he is waiting in the queue
Also, this would enable to boost in -store /impulse sales
Aroma Therapy: There are perfume /fresheners available in the market which enables to reduce the perception of time. Such air fresheners/ perfumes could be leveraged in the store to reduce the perception of customer wait time
Mobile POS: This is mobile Point of Sale which could be used by any store associate to scan the products and create a docket, which could be further billed at the POS terminal or could be billed at the Mobile POS itself. This solution was leveraged by Apple when they launched ipod and were expecting a heavy footfall. They realized they did not have enough POS terminal to cater to the demand and hence introduced mobile POS to bust the queue. It does not require any additional space in the store and could be easily leveraged when the traffic is high to reduce the customer wait time.
Self Mobile Checkout : With most customers carrying a smart phone, customers could carry out a self check out by scanning the items using an application on their mobile phone and bill it either at the POS terminal or through mobile banking/ credit /debit card
RFID: With RFID tag prices dropping; this option could also be adopted for quicker checkout by scanning all items in one goes using an RFID reader.
Furhter there are other technologicals solutions to tacke the problem. As suggested by Mr Shenoy:
In supermarkets, given a large number of items in a basket, the check-out time is long, Flat bed scanners with 360 Degree scanning, which helps the check out cashier to quickly scan the items.
In-trolley scanner – where a customer’s items are scanned as the customer puts them into the trolley. This facilitates the check out speed.
In fashion stores and department stores it is possible that the customer may be a loyalty program member at say Shoppers’ Stop and gets 10 points for every Rs. 100 spent, but gets additional 20 points for merchandise bought from brand say Biba, and additional 20 points if the payment is done on Standard Chartered Bank credit card. In such a scenario the rules are very complex and slow down the speed of check out:
The solution is The Point of Sale solution like Retail Pro has built in intelligence, and is specially designed to take care of multiple loyalty points programs. This speeds up the checkout.