Much has been written about the demise of brick and mortar retail. But it turns out, the demise is greatly exaggerated. While e-commerce and the so-called Amazon effect are significantly changing our shopping behaviors, they’re not replacing the in-person experience. Instead, smart retailers are turning the tables and leveraging data and technology to create in-person advantages, especially at checkout.
The buying experience is the main reason customers choose to visit a store vs. shopping online. While online “click and buy” wins in terms of speed and convenience, shoppers place high value on human interaction, expert consultation, and personalization. And, the decision to shop in-store isn’t driven by older, less tech-savvy generations. Millennials place a higher value on experiences compared to the generations before them. As a result, 56 percent choose to shop in stores once per week, compared to just 27 percent of Boomers and 44 percent of Gen Xers. (Source)
Looking ahead, experts say Gen Z is poised to drive further integration of online and in-person shopping based on the value they place on the buying experience. While they do pre-purchase research online, most – 81 percent – of Gen Z say they would rather do their shopping in a brick and mortar store. (Source)
To win customers and keep them coming back, retailers must deliver on shoppers’ heightened expectations for an in-person experience. A key area to focus on is the Point-of-Sale (POS) checkout experience. Here are three ways to ensure your brick and mortar POS stands out in a digital world.
1. Dazzle with details, face-to-face
While online shopping can serve up suggestions on additional items a customer might like at the time of purchase, the advantage here goes to the in-person experience, if it’s done well.
Utilize your POS to put comprehensive customer information at your team’s fingertips. Basic contact info and purchase history is a good start. But take it a step further by adding details like birthdates, hobbies, favorite brands, or clothing sizes. Then, empower your employees to engage the customer conversationally, ask about a past purchase, alert the customer to upcoming promotions she may be interested in, and, as appropriate, even offer a birthday discount.
Look for a POS system that isn’t tied solely to the checkout desk. When employees can access all the data and even process purchases from anywhere in the store via a tablet or smartphone, it’s a win-win for retailers and customers alike.
Creating memorable, personalized experiences impact the bottom line. Customers who have a great shopping experience are more loyal, and they’re willing to pay up to 16 percent more. On the flip side, a lackluster or bad experience will cost you. Thirty-two percent of customers say a single bad experience is enough to stop them from buying from a brand they love. (Source)
2. Track and reward, in real-time
Great in-store experiences differentiate brick-and-mortar retailers. Customer loyalty programs take it to the next level. Your POS system must be able to integrate and track customer reward points and progress in real-time. That way, an employee can notify customers when they’ve reached a milestone or let them know when they’re almost there.
Reward programs are an expected part of today’s customer experience, with shoppers citing them as an important way retailers let them know they value them as a customer. Participation is high, too, with Millennials leading the way. Eight in ten Millennials are members of customer loyalty programs. (Source)
There’s no cookie-cutter formula for retail reward programs. Instead, the programs offer retailers another opportunity to tailor their shopping experience to match their specific customer niche.
3. Ease wins, every time
While younger generations like in-person experiences, they grew up in the digital age. If checkout takes too long or requires more than a click or two, you’ve lost them. And, if you don’t accept their preferred method of payment, forget about it!
Shoppers – especially Millennials – are quickly moving on from cash. Today, one in four Americans rarely carries cash, and Millennials are 41 percent more likely to say paying for something with cash is “inconvenient.” (Source) But, while debit and credit cards are the overwhelming favorites for purchasing today, make sure your POS system can handle up and coming options like prepaid cards and contactless payments such as GooglePay and Apple Wallet. For a checkout experience that stands out, check out POSIM, a point-of-sale system with integrated inventory management that’s designed to help retail businesses reach their sales goals. To explore what POSIM can do for your business, contact us for a demo.