With just a few days remaining until the Easter weekend, the public holiday presents one of the biggest spikes in the retail calendar.
With the Easter egg market alone tipped at being worth £365 million, many consumers use the bank holiday as a time to shop. Data from Experian FootFall suggests European shopper traffic rises ahead of the Easter weekend and continues into the following week, creating the potential for a two-week surge in spending.
While this peak in footfall presents an opportunity to drive increased sales, queuing can be a particular challenge for retailers when it comes to purchase abandonment. In fact, research from Box Technologies revealed that 41% of shoppers have given up on a purchase due to long queue times.
So, what can retailers do to beat the queues and enhance customers’ in-store experiences this Easter?
Predict when your store is likely to reach crisis point
As the saying goes, prevention is better than cure. Looking back over previous Easter periods, trading patterns can reveal vital details on when your store is likely to be busy, enabling you to put measures in place – such as increasing workforce – to ensure customer service standards are upheld.
A good retail business intelligence tool is essential for these insights. Although it won’t stop ebbs and flows in consumer traffic, it will prepare your business for the most intense stress moments.
Increase your payment points
Many retailers rely on one or two fixed points of sale (POS), so waiting lines can quickly build up during busy moments. Mobile POS technology is a very effective tool for preventing this congestion, as retailers can quickly and easily open up an alternative point of payment when queues begin to lengthen.
Not only that, but the portable nature of mobile payment devices mean retail staff can use them at any point within the store – so shoppers don’t even have to join a queue to make their purchase.
Keep an eye on the queue
It’s very easy for a seemingly controlled situation to suddenly become very chaotic at peak trading times; queues can go from 2 or 3 people to 7-10 in the space of just a few minutes.
Assign dedicated ‘queue buster’ staff, who – armed with a payments enabled tablet device - can wander up and down the lines, processing transactions to quickly get the queue back down to a more manageable length.
Speed up transactions
Another factor compounding queue times is the length of each customer transaction. While there are a limited number of things you can do to make scanning and packing goods speedier, there are ways to decrease payment times.
Promoting contactless payments for low value purchases is a good example. Another is integrating loyalty schemes onto an application for consumers’ mobile phones, so they don’t have to spend minutes searching through their wallet to collect or redeem points.
So, armed with insight and by embracing technology, retailers can more effectively manage in-store customer experiences to enable them to capitalise on the sales opportunities peak sales periods, such as Easter, bring.
By Tim Barton, Director of Strategic Accounts at iVend.
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