Did you know that over 70% of all shopping carts are abandoned online? Just because you have managed to bring someone to your site or into your store doesn’t mean they will buy from you. This is a curious, often vexing problem that retailers have been trying to address since time immemorial.
Why do people hate billing and checkout so much?
You would be right to think that after a long day spent browsing in-store, customers want nothing more than to leave, and leave quickly. While true for retail outlets, this doesn’t explain why customers abandon carts so often online. Or does it?
The key principle behind building a checkout system should always be speed. If you can process billing as fast as possible, while also making sure your customers are treated well, you have a winning formula. I have written extensively about the checkout experience here.
Here are some more ways to turn billing into a dream come true, and not let it be the nightmare it is now.
Being Perceived As Unreliable
If you’ve purchased goods online, you would certainly have had this experience. Some sites make the offering so compelling that you make a purchase and leave in a span of minutes. Other sites have everything the textbook says they must, but still fail to result in as many conversions as they should. In a retail store, we often find customers who are weary, angry or just impatient. What is the probability that such customers will return?
The consumer experience is made or broken at checkout. You can have the best products, offer they most lucrative discounts, but if your customer doesn’t like being at checkout, they’ll leave. Oftentimes, the cues that prompt people to buy or avoid are very subtle. This is why it helps to build a rapport with them.
In a retail outlet, having rockstars for counter representatives works! These people know how to engage people in a conversation long enough to finish billing. They know never to question a customer for bringing in an expired gift card to have it redeemed now. They know that sometimes, in summers, the extra soft drink procured for a customer is not an expense. These are the people you need stationed at billing counters.
A dependable POS software also speeds up the process considerably. It can also help you manage inventory, and can help you with ‘pop-up’ information about repeat customers so you can start a conversation with them.
In a web store, it is so easy to want to present alternatives and options. However, what you should be presenting is a sense of safety and trust. Antivirus seals, award banners, and secure transaction guarantees all work to make the consumer subconsciously feel safe. Naturally, they’re going to buy from a place they trust instantly.
A Boring Experience Is A Bad Experience
Why does the checkout always have to be boring? In some retail stores, there are television sets tuned into the day’s game to keep people engaged. If there ever was a stone-age of billing counter design, it was the idea to put television sets in there. Sure, it was a great idea a few years ago, and even led to the evolution of the new-age counters, but it is a redundant practice now.
Why would you want to have televisions when you can have tablet-based checkout hubs within your store? Not only do lines become a thing of the past, tablets laid out strategically can provide a customer with more information about your products while they’re checking out. Staples did it, and you should too.
How about using a token system for billing? As soon as a customer walks in, or a few minutes later, they’re handed a token number depicting their place in the queue. They can then shop around until their number shows up. The key here, on busy days, is to time the tokens such that customers have ample time to browse, and yet when they get to the counter, the process is fast. Indeed, large queues are often managed using the token system, so as to prevent people from jumping queues and adding to the general disgruntlement.
Portable barcode scanners are another great way to make checkouts smoother. Since all of the products are already scanned by the customers themselves while browsing through, all that happens at the checkout counter is the actual payment. You would also do well to consider self-checkouts, a-la Sainsbury UK. Customers simply scan products, weigh them in the end, and pay. In fact, Tesco uses a similar approach too, but they’ve personalized it. Their checkout counters can provide assistance in multiple languages.
Doing Away With Billing Counters Entirely?!
Amazon is doing it, which is probably why everyone should follow suit. Honestly, doesn’t the idea of just walking into the store, picking up whatever you want and simply walking out sound amazing? Almost like a trip to the refrigerator! Some companies are beginning to think that doing away with checkouts entirely is the highest form of respect for the customer. Perhaps, in such a scenario, they wouldn’t mind not being spoken to, because the shop already feels like home.
Even if you aren’t thinking of taking the very radical alternative, we urge you to consider alternatives. Omnichannel retail is great for you, the retailer. But it can also be great for your consumer. By giving them the option of buying online and picking up in-store, or by offering your products through several marketplaces, you’re virtually eliminating checkout. In scenario 1, the checkout is completed online and in scenario 2, it is done on a trusted marketplace. In both cases, there is no queue whatsoever.
While you’re at it, why not also let people check out as guests on your web store? People really don’t enjoy filling out lengthy forms, and your customer registration form is no exception. If you’re really particular about them logging in, you can consider letting them log in through social profiles. Best option: use guest checkout. They will still be providing you with their name, address, and number – details you can upload into your marketing database later.