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Grocery store checkout experiences — which were fairly static for decades — are changing a lot today. Customers expect quicker checkout times, efficient shopping options, and the ability to pay with multiple payment methods.
To ensure that you stay ahead of the curve and keep customers coming back, optimize the retail checkout experience to meet their needs.
Signs you need to optimize your grocery store checkout
How do you know that it’s time to re-evaluate your grocery store checkout process? There are a few common signs that could signal the need to try something new.
Your first clue is always revenue. Have sales dipped? Is revenue taking a hit because shoppers are going elsewhere?
Your second assessment is you’ll want to pay attention to chatter in the store. If customers are complaining about long lines or having to wait at the checkout, you likely have a problem.
Finally, look at sales per transaction. If the average basket size decreases, that is a sign that you aren’t holding on to customers with big orders and they might be transitioning to other locations, even if they aren’t as convenient.
Here’s how to make grocery store checkout faster for customers and staff
A successful, modern grocery store checkout is fast for customers and employees. Everyone likes to keep lines moving and interact smoothly.
To address these needs, the Square for Retail checkout features a suite of tools to help you manage your store. You can ring up sales efficiently to keep the lines moving swiftly as you scan barcodes. You can also sell in person and online and manage inventory easily. Plus, every employee can log in with a unique passcode to ensure your point-of-sale system stays secure.
Knowing how to run a seamless grocery store checkout is also key. Here are 12 tips that you can deploy in your checkout process to help ensure everything runs smoothly and as quickly as possible.
1. Upgrade your entire POS
The first step in ensuring a speedy checkout is to use a modern point-of-sale system. If you are running on older tech, it’s time to upgrade to a new system that’s easy for you and your staff to learn and adopt.
For grocery stores, in particular, there are a few key features that you need to pay special attention to:
- Customizable POS interface: It’s important to have an interface that includes visual and contextual search. This helps staff find items quickly when they need it, as well as provides images of items for customer search online or at a self-checkout.
- Barcode scanning: Quick checkouts start with barcode scanning for every item in the store. If items don’t come with barcodes, the POS should include the ability to create one. Square for Retail Plus allows you to create and print barcodes for any item in your inventory. It works with a variety of labels and printers and can even auto-generate SKUs, if necessary. You can even incorporate bulky or weighed items into the POS buttons if a barcode is too difficult to manage on a specific item.
- Connected scale: For produce and other weighted items, a connected scale is vital. This not only saves time and eliminates room for error, but helps you keep track of inventory and prices accurately without loss. A fully integrated and modern POS can read price-embedded barcodes, printed by a printing scale that is connected to inventory.
By ensuring that all three of these features are part of your POS, the system will be able to track all inventory movement in your store.
2. Integrate your POS with your payment processor
Integrated payments keep lines moving faster because customers don’t have to wait to be prompted for payment.
Square for Retail includes an integrated payment system so that all payment types — from credit cards to Apple Pay to gift cards — are part of the POS. Plus, you have same-day access to funds and everything is PCI compliant. Your staff will like integrated payment processing as well; they won’t have to manually enter in the final price or troubleshoot multiple devices. For the back of house, your accountant will find it easier to reconcile bookkeeping when the point of sale and card terminal are integrated.
3. Use self-checkout lanes
Self-checkout lanes can keep retail checkouts moving with ease. Self-checkouts account for 41% of the market in the U.S., making it an in-demand feature.
Self-checkouts with scales, visual options for non-barcoded items, and integrated payments help ensure smooth customer experiences without a lot of additional help from staff.
Keep lanes moving even faster with options for self-checkout lanes that are for shoppers with 10 items or less and accept only credit card payments. Self-checkouts are ideal for shoppers with only a few items who want to get in and out of the store quickly.
4. Make loyalty points easy
With a loyalty system that’s built into the POS, it’s easy for shoppers to participate, and you get the added bonus of more connected customer information.
Choose a system that allows customers to earn loyalty points by scanning a barcode or QR code at checkout or entering their phone number. With a low barrier to entry, more shoppers are likely to take part in this offering.
5. Automate discounts for bulk items
Set up automatic discounting for bulk items in your POS. There’s nothing worse than stopping the line because someone wants you to manually check a price or sale.
Automatic discounting will keep staff members from having to look up special pricing and allow customers to see those discounts as items are scanned.
6. Centralize price changes
When prices change, they need to change everywhere: in the back end of the point-of-sale system, on printed price or barcode labels, and on shelf tags. It’s important to develop a process to handle these changes so that customers don’tt find inconsistent and confusing pricing.
7. Use BOPIS, ROPIS, and BORIS
Learn the three most powerful acronyms in grocery shopping: BOPIS, ROPIS, and BORIS. Then use them to the advantage of your staff and shoppers. All three can keep traffic flows moving smoother in your physical retail location:
- Buy nline, pickup in store (BOPIS): The one-two punch of combining online shopping with visiting a retail location ensures that big shopping orders can be timed to a flow that’s more convenient for you and the customer. There’s the added bonus of coming to the physical location for pickup, where an additional purchase might be made, and there are no delivery costs to consider.
- Reserve online, pickup in store (ROPIS): For special orders or holiday shopping items, the ability for shoppers to reserve items online and then pay and pick up at the store is an attractive option. It can keep shoppers happy because they don’t have to look for sometimes hard-to-find items and staff isn’t required to take additional time to track items down on a customer-by-customer basis.
- Buy online, return in store (BORIS): No one likes to think about returns, but offering a buy-online-return-in-store option is one more way to actually help drive customers into your retail location. Often, a customer that comes in for a return will make an additional purchase.
8. Accommodate numerous payment options
One of the biggest things you can do to speed up the grocery store checkout process is to accept different forms of payment. This ensures that whatever option a customer has will work.
These payment options may include:
- Contactless card payments
- Chip credit cards
- Debit cards
- Virtual wallets
- Mobile payments
- QR codes
- Store reward redemptions
9. Use digital receipts
Digital receipts can make checkout quicker, save money, and provide a “greener” option for customers. Customers won’t have to wait for the printer to process everything or keep track of pieces of paper.
The most popular digital options include using email or SMS/text receipts. Connect customer email addresses and phone numbers to loyalty programs in your POS for automatic and easy delivery of digital receipts.
10. Optimize your staff
Your grocery store staff can be your biggest asset when it comes to keeping customers happy and helping them move through the store, and checkout, quickly.
It starts with training. Every member of your team should have a good idea of where items are located in the store, what the key promotions are, and how to work in the POS with ease.
Then your managers should optimize staff schedules to ensure that the store has the right number of cashiers for specific times of the day and days of the week. (Use reports from your POS to help track and predict peak times for scheduling.)
11. Use produce-recognition software
Consider produce-recognition software to help speed up checkout. This software can automatically identify fresh and non-barcoded items so that cashiers don’t have to look up and type in four-digit codes at the register.
This can help speed up self-checkouts and prevent customers from putting in the wrong item code or misidentifying items.
12. Upgrade your internet connection
Finally, internet speed matters for your grocery store. Your checkouts can only be as fast as your internet connectivity with the number of elements that are linked online, from eCommerce to payments to other integrated systems.
If your POS is getting stuck or experiencing pauses or delays, a subpar internet connection could be the culprit.
Common upgrades to internet connections include moving to a fiber optic network instead of broadband if it is available in your area. Then create a mesh network so that all points of sale are connected and working together.
Square for Retail has all the point-of-sale features you need to keep grocery checkouts moving quickly and integrates eCommerce so that you can create a modern sales flow for all shoppers. Think about which of the twelve steps above could benefit your business and upgrade your checkout experience.