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Beating the queue: Improving the shopping experience with technology

(Image credit: Image Credit: WNDJ / Pixabay)

As technology has become quicker and we can get instant access to almost anything we want, consumers are losing patience, particularly in store. In fact, new research has unveiled that nearly 80 per cent of customers will walk away from an in-store checkout because of long queues. However, this doesn’t mean that customers don’t still value the in-store experience – far from it. And there are still huge benefits to viewing items in person.

But, what this does mean is that the in-store experience needs to adapt to the changing pace of life. And the fact is, online shopping has only added to customers’ impatience in store. Being able to view items from the comfort of their own home, click a button and even select same day delivery has meant that customers’ expectations of online shopping are infiltrating their expectations of the experience in stores. This, combined with the fact that customers spend more in-store than they do online, due to the prevalence of impulse buying, means it has become imperative for merchants to implement measures to speed up the in-store experience in order to avoid losing sales.

So, with all this need for speed, what technologies are available to merchants to help them eradicate the need for queues?

Instant payments

Completed in under 10 seconds from one bank to another in real-time, instant payments are not only processed quickly, but also at any time of day. And the best bit is, they can be integrated into a range of checkouts, including on-the-go devices, to suit any business. The instantaneity of the transaction can be highly beneficial to companies’ cash-flow, and likewise instant refunds add great value for customers.

Scan and pay

Scan and pay is a mobile-based payment option that enables the customer to scan a QR code relating to the product using an app. Completely erasing the need for a checkout service and queues, payments are made via a merchant app. The brilliant thing about this method of payment is it puts the power back into the customers hands. As well as this, it provides greater in-store mobility, and allows them to shop on the go. Essentially, they walk in, pick up the item, scan it, and go.

MPOS and EPOS systems

Much like a cash register, MPOS systems are used to process transactions, but instead they work via a mobile point of sale. What makes this method unique is that by being able to take payments on a mobile phone, or on a tablet using an EPOS system, payments can be taken anywhere in a store, as long as the sales assistant or merchant is carrying a smart device. This can work out extremely cost effective, as it reduces the need for costly terminals.

And reducing the need for terminals provides even further value, as mPOS systems enable a more efficient use of store floor space. With retailers increasingly seeking to boost their presence in city centres, but with reduced floor space, this is an extremely valuable benefit.

Instore mobility to combat queues and add value

But what’s the link between all these different types of payments? Well, they all utilise in-store mobility in one way or another. They’re not reliant on payments taking place in one area of a store, thereby causing crowds and queues. Rather, they provide the opportunity for customers to pay on the shop floor, either with a sales advisor, via a mobile app or portable terminal. 

And the fact is, in-store mobility is the key to personalising the shopping journey by putting the store associate back at the heart of the sales decision in physical stores. As a result, the payment process becomes about more than just a transaction but becomes an opportunity to forge a deeper relationship with the customer – before checkout rather than at the checkout.

What makes this gradual change so interesting is that it represents a significant shift in the power dynamics between the consumer and sales associate. These days, shoppers are able to access such a broad range of product data using smartphones and 4G connection, that it gives them the “insight advantage” when talking with sales staff.

But, there are still questions that only sales advisors can provide the answers to. For example, is the item they want actually in stock? What has the customer response been? Which item would the sales advisor recommend?

Transforming the retail experience

So, inevitably these new systems are evolving the role of the sales advisor. But by giving shop floor staff more freedom to roam the store and provide 1-2-1 service for customers on a more personal level, as well as take payments on the spot, the in-store experience can combine the online and the physical experience. This will create a brand-new invisible checkout experience that works to the benefit of both merchants and consumers.

And the fact is, consumers are continuing to demand quicker, more convenient ways to pay in-store. Many stores are already adapting to meet these requests, providing the services customers need to be able to pay on the go, without the need to wait in a queue. So, inevitably the days of queueing are numbered, and merchants who don’t adapt to customers’ demands by reducing the barriers to payment risk losing out on sales.

How can retailers know which payment method is right for them?

The best port of call is to chat to a payments professional who can apply their expert knowledge of the market to your individual business needs. However, Ingenico believes in-store mobility is the retail trend that will redefine the first half of the coming decade. And Ingenico have long been a pioneer of in-store mobility solutions. Its forthcoming generation of devices will enable retailers of all sizes and scale to create a smoother shopping experience for consumers and boost the revenue-generating potential of sales associates.

Furthermore, with over 20 years’ experience and a range of payment system offerings, Ingenico Enterprise Retail is perfectly placed to answer any questions you may have – retail, security, technical or otherwise – and help your business improve its in-store mobility with a bespoke payments system.

Lee Jones, Director of Sales and Business Development, Ingenico Enterprise Retail (opens in new tab)

Lee is the commercial leader for Ingenico Enterprise Retail in Northern Europe. Lee and team have an unparalleled track record of helping organisations deliver a reliable and secure checkout experience.