Often cited as the biggest bugbear of shoppers, retailers have long sought methods of shortening queues in order to give customers a better experience. Not much changed however, until today’s digital age when the ease of online shopping with mobile devices produced a generation of consumers addicted to convenience.
A survey of 1,200 UK consumers by Omnico provided more evidence that convenience is king. It found that 74 per cent of shoppers said speed and convenience are what count in retail. More than four-in-ten (41 per cent) regarded queues as one of their top worries when shopping at a busy time, while of those who have abandoned physical shops altogether, in favour of queue-free online shopping, 47 per cent said they did so in order to avoid queues.
Omnico research also revealed how consumers now expect technology to increase convenience. Their expectations range from single loyalty apps and click-and-collect hubs in shopping malls, to the use of virtual reality. More than six-out-of-ten (61 per cent) of the 1,000 UK consumers surveyed said they expect bricks-and-mortar retailers to offer them virtual reality headsets (VR), multi-experience loyalty apps and other advanced technologies such as voice-activation within three years.
Steve Thomas, CTO, Omnico shares his three tips for queue-busting:
- Take point of sale (PoS) systems away from the front desk and directly to customers
Mobile POS typically comes in the form of tablets, which can either be in fixed locations or made portable for staff to carry around the store. They not only enable staff to process transactions much more quickly and discreetly, they also bring retailers a far better view of all their stock and facilitate the provision of new loyalty features to customers.
- Allow customers to bring their smartphones into the mix
Mobile self-scanning works by allowing customers to scan their items using their smartphones and other mobile devices via an app, which adds each item to a digital basket. When the customer has finished scanning all their items, they can simply walk out the store, via another quick scan of their smartphone deducting the total cost from their electronic dividend, eWallet or credit card. As customers can simultaneously scan their own items, they are not required to wait in line while others have their purchases ringed in, greatly reducing the need for queues.
- Use the cloud so you always have capacity
Fluctuating demand is always a resource-headache for retailers. The solution is to deploy POS in the cloud, allowing a retailer to scale up and down their computer resources and processing power based on the number of customer transactions. It means the retailer is ready for heavier trading periods such as the summer holidays, Christmas, Valentine’s Day and so on, and then draws back the technology requirement during quieter times.
By taking these tips into consideration, retailers can ensure that customers always receive a convenient shopping experience in which queues are a non-issue. The rewards, as many retailers have already found, can be immense. Eliminating the biggest irritation for shoppers can set any retailer apart from the competition all year-round.