One of the most important parts of the customer experience at your retail store is the point of sale (POS), or point of purchase (POP), when transactions are completed. It stands as a crucial and decisive moment, for several reasons:
- It’s the last chance for the customer to abandon the sale. Online retailers have to worry about cart abandonment, but that doesn’t mean physical retailers are off the hook. With a long line, a bad experience, or confusion about a product, it’s still possible for a customer to abandon the sale here — and that means lost revenue.
- It’s a point of guaranteed interaction. Even if you don’t have floating salespeople in your store, your customers are guaranteed to interact at the POS, even if it’s just with automated software. This interaction will form the foundation of your brand reputation — or affect the reputation you’ve already built.
- It’s the last impression a customer gets of your store. First impressions get all the attention, but last impressions are just as important, if not more so in a retail environment. This is your last chance to make your store memorable.
- It’s the last chance for questions and concerns. This is also your customers’ last chance to ask questions or address concerns about their purchases. They need to feel comfortable voicing those questions, and get direct, honest answers.
- It’s a critical opportunity to gain or lose time. The biggest temporal holdup in retail stores is waiting in line to finish payment; this is your chance to distinguish yourself from your competitors.
So, what can you do to improve this pivotal experience?
Best Strategies for Mastering POS
These are some of your most powerful assets in maximizing the customer experience at the point-of-sale:
- Choose the right software and devices. There are literally hundreds of choices for a retail POS system, and the decision is even more complicated when you consider both software and hardware options. You’ll need to evaluate your needs and priorities far in advance of your decision, and do exhaustive research to land with the platform that’s most appropriate for your business.
- Train your staff on the importance of this interaction. Aside from your POS system, the biggest variable here is how your staff handles customer interactions. They have the power to make the experience more positive or negative with their tone of voice, helpfulness, speed, and abilities. Make sure they’re properly trained on your store policies regarding transactions, and that they understand how pivotal the POS moment is for customer retention.
- Prioritize speed. Speed should be one of your biggest priorities in POS; faster transaction times mean you can process more customers per minute, and all those customers will walk away with a more favorable impression of your brand. Shave time by choosing a reliably fast POS system and optimizing the checkout process.
- Accept many payments. Customers these days may prefer one of several different payment types, including cash, credit cards, and digital services like PayPal. The more payment options you offer, the more people you’ll be able to please.
- Offer receipt options. Similarly, people may have differing preferences when it comes to receiving receipts; some want a paper receipt, some want digital, and others don’t care at all. You should be able to offer any of these options.
- Be transparent and answer questions. Train your cashiers to ask incoming customers if they have any questions about their purchases, or if there’s anything they missed in the store. It’s an opportunity to secure another sale (if they missed something), and ensure that the customer has been satisfied with their experience so far. You’ll also want to provide information as transparently as possible, establishing trust with the customer.
- End with a positive note. Whatever it takes, end the transaction (and therefore the entire customer experience) with a positive note. That may mean including a small surprise with every order, like a discount for a subsequent visit, or just offering a polite smile and a bid to have a good day.
If you can incorporate these seven important elements into your existing POS strategy, your customers will walk away with a better impression of your business, and you’ll maximize customer retention—one of the most important factors for long-term success. Investing in the right POS software may cost some money upfront, but most of these changes won’t take much time or effort; all you have to do is make the commitment to implement them.
About the writer: Anna is a freelance writer, researcher, and business consultant. A columnist for Entrepreneur.com, Forbes.com and more, Anna specializes in entrepreneurship, technology, and social media trends. Follow her on Twitter @Number1AnnaJo and LinkedIn.
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