When it comes to operating a trade or retail counter, cash and carry or showroom, delivering exceptional customer satisfaction is everything. With online shopping rapidly becoming more and more favourable with consumers, companies operating more traditional bricks-and-mortar stores should be striving to deliver a more expedient and personable in-store experience for their customers in order to keep up with their online competitors. However it seems that when it comes to actually providing this high standard of service, many companies across the country are falling too far behind and not delivering what their customers expect.
In a perfect world, today’s consumers want the convenience of online shopping but with the product immediacy of purchasing goods from a bricks-and-mortar store or showroom. However where online retailers have been hugely committed to reducing their despatch times in order to deliver this ideal optimum to their customers, with online giant Amazon now even able to deliver orders within the hour in some major cities, retail stores have been less proactive. The impact of this reluctance to make the necessary in-store changes to cater for the demands of modern shoppers has meant that businesses operating bricks-and-mortar trading environments are in fact losing £1 Billion in sales each and every year, as found in a comprehensive survey by mobile phone company EE back in 2014.
So What Is Causing These Enormous Losses?
There are various factors that contribute to this sizeable loss, however the predominant overriding factor is simply down to how a business has their store set up. 57% of a customer’s in-store satisfaction is decided by the checkout experience, which means getting this wrong can really affect customer relationships and whether or not that person will return to buy again. The problem is that too often businesses are getting this very wrong, with customers forced to queue up and wait. This is a major concern, as the same EE study found that 73% of shoppers are in fact disinclined to wait longer than five minutes to make their purchase and are even willing to leave the shop empty handed if they are forced to wait longer than this timeframe. This statistic underlines exactly why UK businesses operating stores are losing £1 Billion each year in sales, especially when you consider that on average British shoppers spend over 18 hours a year stuck in store waiting lines.
These are staggering numbers, however what’s more surprising is just how easily these situations can be avoided. By simply having the infrastructure in-store to reduce queuing times, speed up checkout and hasten point-of-sale order processing, businesses can really help to reduce the volume of sales that are being lost on a daily basis. With a massive 77% of shoppers saying that queuing to pay for products at the tills is the worst part of shopping in-store and 63% saying they will abandon purchases if the queue is too long, businesses looking to improve their in-store experience should firstly look to introduce measures to reduce the length of time their customers are kept waiting.
So what can businesses operating in offline trading environments do then to combat these statistics and better compete against a growing base of online competitors?
The answer is in fact a number of things, starting with how their products are sold.
One advancement in trade technology that seems to be quickly catching on with a wide variety of different shop owners is giving the customers the ability to scan while they shop. This innovative way of shopping allows businesses to greatly speed up their order processing by presenting their clientele with barcode scanners upon their arrival. This allows them to avoid checkout queues by scanning the items they want as they browse the outlet before simply docking their device and paying for the goods once they are finished. This method of shopping has already proven to be a hit with many store owners and their respective customers, making it an ideal solution for businesses looking to prevent sales lost through long queues. Although some companies may initially write this technology off as simply an in-store luxury, as the shift towards mobile technology continues these type of checkout systems will very soon become essential.
Nonetheless if brick-and-mortar stores are to compete with online businesses, it is not just down to reducing checkout queues but also speeding up the rate at which orders are processed too. Far too many stores up-and-down the country are currently operating with archaic till systems which are not only difficult for their staff to use but also keep down the volume of order handling capabilities. Therefore companies should also ensure that the till system they are using is modern, easy-to-use and designed to allow staff to process orders as efficiently as possible.
However if businesses are aware of known busy periods where at least small queues are inevitable, another key thing is to ensure that the sales value of customers that do wait around to be served is fully maximised in order to counteract against those lost through the formation of queues. The easiest way to achieve this is by ensuring staff are provided with the tools they need to effectively up and cross sell. It is a common misconception that pushing these till point sales is a real cause of annoyance for customers, when in fact, if done correctly, it is the complete opposite. In fact, 74% of shoppers surveyed internationally think that receiving product recommendations based on past purchasing habits is a positive capability, meaning there is a clear desire from consumers for greater personalisation in the manner to which they are sold. Therefore businesses should strive to record a customer’s previously sold items, push suggested items to go with the items they are purchasing or offer higher margin alternatives in order to drive extra profitability.
Upgrade Your In-Store Shopping Experience With Multi-Channel Trading
The final thing in-store traders can do is take the old adage of “if you can’t beat them, join them” and open their trading up across multiple channels. This has several benefits, not only opening up businesses to an extra revenue stream but also enhancing the ways in which customers interact with the company’s brand. The desire for this multi-channel interaction is already there with many consumers too, with as many as a quarter of shoppers actively seeking to trade with companies across multiple channels. However these shoppers aren’t being capitalised on as most businesses have little or no knowledge of how shoppers wish to communicate with their brand outside of the store environment, with 70% also lacking the ability to integrate their online and offline customer data. By changing this through a fully-integrated solution for effective multi-channel trading, businesses can increase profitability and improve customer relationships through more flexible delivery options such as click-and-collect.
In conclusion, although it is clear that many businesses operating bricks-and-mortar trading environments have a lot of work to do if this astounding sum of lost sales is to be reduced, the upside is that what customers are looking for from today’s retail stores, trade counters and showrooms is well documented. By making changes to their store setup, investing in a fast, modern order processing system and communicating with customers across multiple platforms, businesses can ensure that their contribution to this £1 Billion figure is eliminated.
For more information on how OrderWise can help your business improve sales performance, including multi-channel integration, scan as you shop technology and flexible POS & EPOS setup, head HERE.
Read more on the EE Retail Customer Survey HERE.
To discuss your requirements in more detail contact us today on 01522 704083.