05 Nov 2018
Reports of the death of bricks and mortar shops may have been greatly exaggerated, but any visit to your local shopping centre is likely to reveal more empty units and temporary tenants than in the past. The blame for this is being laid squarely at the door of online shopping: it seems that many modern consumers would rather armchair-shop than window-shop. They’re more likely to buy wearable tech from an e-retailer than clock up 10 000 steps walking round the food court and the aisles.
Fortunately for traditional retailers, there are a number of tactics that they can adopt to reverse or at least arrest this trend, and the answer seems to lie in making “real” shopping experiences more rewarding. You could even say that going to the mall for a retail moment needs to be more therapeutic.
Part of the answer lies in human factors; and part of it is as a result of advances in Point of Sale Systems. In this blog we’ll take a look at how integrating humans and technology can make going to the shops more appealing and rewarding.
The days of rows of checkout staff robotically scanning purchases are probably drawing to a close, thanks to the advent of self-service check-outs and more sophisticated systems that monitor shoppers and bill them for each item they place in their trolley or basket.
Sitting at a till was never a job that people aspired to; retail employers have recognised this and are retraining and redeploying their staff in value-add customer liaison roles. This is one example of how human factors – in this case, more available and more knowledgeable staff – can make going to the shops less of a chore.
The other side of the coin (does anyone still use coins to buy things?) is technology. Advances in Point of Sale Systems are enabling retailers to deliver shopping experiences worth leaving home for.
Loyalty schemes need to make sense to consumers if they are going to inspire return visits. Gamification is a major trend here: modern systems can recognise consumers who have loyalty cards (or, more likely, who have downloaded proprietary smartphone apps) and reward them with points that can build up to something more meaningful, such as free products, refreshments or a discount. In today’s caffeine-dependent world, a loyalty scheme that lets people receive the occasional free cappuccino is likely to be a winner.
Modern POS systems can be programmed to add extra levels of incentivisation to loyalty schemes, including gaming-style levels and seemingly random promotions.
Special offers used to be a bit hit and miss, but modern POS software lets you target them with laser-like accuracy. This is also a great way to add valuable layers of nuancing to customer databases, as you can identify which consumers are most likely to take the bait of different kinds of offer, whether BOGOF (buy one, get one free) or a discounted deal.
This means that you can run customised campaigns, and also be more responsive to changing circumstances. Initiating a special on ice cream on an unseasonably hot afternoon, or igniting a deal on firelighters when the local rugby team is playing, are great ways to get in tune with shoppers and make your store more relevant.
With ever-greater pressure to maximise revenue from each square metre of retail premises, space is increasingly at a premium. Receipt printers are still an essential piece of POS equipment as they are required in refund and return scenarios. However, the less POS real estate they occupy, the better – so that your POS staff have fewer impediments to concluding transactions more speedily.
All of which means that your customers spend less time at the checkout, and leave your store without the frustrations associated with queuing to pay.
Encouraging customers to spend longer in your store can result in higher-value transactions; enabling them to pay more speedily leads to increased satisfaction and a higher likelihood of a return visit.
The combination of better in-store service, targeted promotions, more engaging loyalty schemes and speedier check-out services – all made possible by modern Point of Sale Systems – could prove to be the foundation of a rebuilding of the fortunes of bricks and mortar stores.
Integrating human and technology factors can also drive more rewarding careers in retail, while more knowledgeable, better-skilled staff can contribute further to a retail renaissance.