How retailers are shortening long lines this holiday season…and year round

With U.S. holiday retail sales forecasted to grow between 3.8% and 4.2% annually,1 top retailers are adopting digital operational technologies in-store to quickly serve more customers in a way that will encourage them to return year-round.

Target and Walmart lead this initiative with their respective Skip-the-Line and Check Out With Me technologies, both of which are a product of their mobile point-of-service (mPOS) capabilities. The companies equip associates with handheld devices that allow them to check out customers anywhere in the store, thereby reducing long lines and wait times at traditional checkout lanes.

“Customers are going to shop where the experience is best,” says Joel Larson, vice president of innovation at Innowi. “Let’s say a customer wants to buy a Christmas tree in a retailer’s parking lot. With mPOS, an employee can check out that customer on the spot, saving them time walking in and out of the store.”

What about potential sales lost by preventing the customer from entering the store and making an impulse buy? Larson says retailers should reconsider.

“Impulse buys typically happen when a customer is waiting in a long line, staring at candy or other trinkets. This is a point of friction for the customer buying a tree,” says Larson. “Yes, customers standing in line today may make an impulse purchase. But retailers with better experiences will get long-term loyalty and the sales of tomorrow.”

Indeed, technology transformations have empowered shoppers to expect more out of brands and their offerings. More than 70% of consumers have stopped buying from a company because a competitor provided a better experience.2 And almost three quarters would prefer a “cashierless checkout” so they don’t have to wait in line.3

“Getting rid of checkout lines isn’t just a holiday responsibility,” says Larson. “It’s a 365-day responsibility to help improve the customer’s experience.” Retailers can also benefit from new operational technologies during slower seasons. mPOS devices that are tailored to retail environments can be used to manage inventory, stock shelves and streamline other daily responsibilities unique to retail. New research from Forrester shows that creating such operational efficiencies lifts retailers’ bottom lines and can empower associates to accomplish more4 — the effects of which are then funneled to the consumer.

Office Depot CEO Gerry Smith echoed this sentiment in an earnings call, noting that highly motivated retail associates are a competitive advantage and paramount to improving the in-store customer experience.5 And Panera Bread saw more positively rated interactions between customers and associates after launching mobile order and pickup because neither had to deal with long lines.6

Fortunately, mPOS capabilities extend beyond the retail industry. Your payments provider can help you decide what functionalities would most benefit your business; whether you’re a small regional chain or an enterprise powerhouse, mPOS can be customized to revolutionize your checkout experience.

“There’s an artistic side to retail that can be leveraged to create differentiation,” says Derrick Carpenter, executive vice president of integrated payments, digital commerce & marketing at Bank of America Merchant Services. “The retailers that succeed in the future will pay attention to both efficiency and pleasure online and in physical stores, which will help them thrive in an ever more competitive environment.”

“There’s an artistic side to retail that can be leveraged
to create differentiation.”

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