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Online shopping continues to rise. An annual survey from comScore and UPS found that shoppers are now buying more things online than in store for the first time. Customers now make 51 percent of their purchases online, compared to 48 percent in 2015, according to the survey.
Convenience is obviously a top factor contributing to this trend, as consumers can view shopping in stores as a time-consuming ordeal. This is especially true when it comes to lines. In fact, respondents to Square’s recent survey ranked slow lines as their number one frustration while shopping.
So to compete with e-commerce, it’s increasingly important for brick-and-mortar shops to optimize their checkout counter experience.
Larger retailers like Walmart dedicated sizeable resources towards this effort during the holidays, for example. The company deployed “Holiday Helpers” to all its retail locations — seasonal workers tasked with expediting lines by doing things like grabbing items customers may have forgotten and helping unload shopping baskets at the register.
Amazon Go is going a step further, launching a grocery store with no lines or checkout counters. Using the same kinds of technologies as self-driving cars, shoppers scan an app on their way in, take whatever items they like, and leave. Everything is automatically billed to their Amazon account.
As a small business, there are a lot of low-lift improvements you can make to help reduce the time your customers spend waiting in line. Here are five.
Get a fast POS.
If your point of sale (POS) is slow, your line is going to be slow. So if it takes more than a few seconds for payments to go through, it’s time to upgrade.
Square’s new POS is easy to implement and one of the fastest on the market. We’re the POS of choice for major music festivals — events that typically have massive concession-stand lines — in part for this reason.
Process chip cards as quickly as possible.
Chip cards are the new standard for credit card processing in the U.S. However, even though they’re a lot more secure than magstripe cards, most people view them as taking a step back technology-wise. That’s because they’re slower (due to their more extensive security checks).
In Square’s survey, over 87 percent of consumers who were dissatisfied with chip cards said it was because they take longer to process than magstripe cards. This isn’t without substantiation — many chip card readers can take up to 13 seconds to complete a transaction.
Square’s contactless and chip reader, on the other hand, takes just 4.2 seconds. That’s because we build both our own hardware and software to create one cohesive solution. All aspects of processing a payment integrate seamlessly, prioritizing for speed and ease of use without sacrificing security.
Accept mobile payments.
Mobile payments (Apple Pay, Android Pay, and Samsung Pay) are the fastest (and most secure) transaction type. All customers have to do is hover their device over the reader and authorize with their thumbprint or PIN code, and the payment completes in seconds. This can help shave significant time off your line speed.
Square Reader for contactless and chip accepts mobile payments quickly and securely. Once you’re set up, it’s a good idea to add some signage at your register (you can get Apple Pay decals here) to let customers know you accept mobile payments. It’s also best to place the reader between you and the customer to make the transaction as easy as possible. Learn more about how to accept mobile payments.
Mobilize your employees.
Take a page from Apple and send staff out into the store to take payments. It’s easy to do with Square. Just order a few more readers so employees can go mobile and ring people up in line or when they’ve found what they want in the store.
Train your staff properly.
You can’t have employees fumbling around, unsure how to use your point of sale. Preventing this requires two tasks on your part: cleaning up your items library and administering a comprehensive training session on how to take every form of payment (chip cards, magstripe cards, mobile payments, and cash) and issue refunds. Read more about how to train your seasonal staff.
No one wants to waste time standing in line. Employing these tactics will help make sure customers think of your store as a pleasant place to shop.