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THE FUTURE OF IN-STORE CHECKOUTS

11.30.2021

Check Lanes Have Checked-Out: Chandler’s Prediction on the Future of Brick and Mortar POS

You market, nurture, and drive consumers towards stellar, just-for-them products there’s no way you could have a leaky funnel, right? Unfortunately, any seasoned retailer knows an abandoned cart (digital or not) is the tombstone of fabulous marketing and merchandising efforts. We’ll dive into how progressive retailers can wrangle the future of in-store checkouts, solve for consumer challenges, and bolster an effective purchase path.

So what’s scaring brick and mortar shoppers away? Clunky checkouts take part of the blame. With all the attention narrowed-in on the hyper-personalized digital experience, it’s critical that retailers continue to improve in-store. While bolstering the entire purchase path is critical, we’re taking a deeper look at the make-or-break moment of truth that is the checkout.

The Trouble With Checkouts

Today’s checkouts are unintuitive, a hassle for consumers, and lagging behind digital’s lure of efficiency. Fixture design and operational flaws take part of the blame. Many self-checkouts have an ineffective flow (where do you put all of those groceries?), touchy technology, and a layout that causes a traffic jam of shopping carts. What’s more is traditional check lanes take up a significant footprint and are often largely unattended, adding to consumer frustration.

The clunkiness hinders what is hyper-critical in today’s digital domination: an efficient shopping experience. Multitasking consumers are scrambling for payment, attending to children, scanning, bagging, and more. Further, the demands can be enough to cause busy consumers to avoid brick and mortar altogether. What’s a retailer to do? To retain the vital in-store consumer, the final stage of the buying experience needs to be re-strategized to align with progressive consumer demands.

The Future of In-Store Checkouts

At Chandler we’re passionate about progressive retail strategies. He’s summed up his predictions on the future of checkouts and how they’ll impact the brick and mortar purchase path.

Hybrid Checkouts:

Optimize your retail real estate by making your points of sale versatile. Forward-thinking designs should facilitate both an attending store associate and a self-checkout option, alike. This can be accomplished by creating flexible fixtures. By allowing the POS systems (and potentially smart cash systems) to rotate, stores’ can shrink their checkout real estate and allow more room for merchandising. Hybrid checkouts allow your POS resources to flex for stores’ unique needs and better respond to fluxes in staffing.

Is an obstacle-free purchase path in your store’s future?

Enhanced Personnel Presence:

Shifts in retail and POS trends shouldn’t result in a decrease in store associates. In fact, we believe redistributing checkout associates is the key to remaining competitive. Employees who once attended to a single point in the purchase path, checkouts, should be immersed throughout your store’s footprint. Associates will be better able to support the holistic purchase path vs. strictly scanning and bagging. The shift bolsters your marketing and merchandising efforts, elevates the consumer experience while purposefully rethinking associate roles.

Image Recognition and AI:

The future of purchasing is a cashless (and card-less) one. With image recognition and artificial intelligence (AI) on the retail horizon, these technologies may hold the key to eliminating consumer challenges as we know them. Image recognition works to recognize products in a variety of settings, reducing the need for product scanning. Whereas AI in retail has the potential to improve the holistic customer experience, optimize sales for increased ROI, and bolster merchandising strategies. A retail world where consumers quickly and efficiently obtain their products without troublesome checkouts could be made real by AI. Strategic retail design will remain critical however, this point in the purchase path will shift drastically. While it appears that the winning system is still in the making, the checkout as we know it may soon be a thing of the past.  

The Proactive Purchase Path: Changes for Retailers to Make Now

Not ready for a POS overhaul? No problem. Consider our three changes to make now to ease your way into the retail revolution.

On-Your-Person POS:

Ensure your team is mobile, agile, and responsive via on-their-person point of sale (POS) capabilities. This allows your associates to better serve consumers throughout the entire purchase path. As a result, gone are the days of strictly servicing shoppers at the checkout counter. Whether you choose tablets or smaller devices, there are a plethora of solutions on the market to mobilize your workforce.

Plastic-Only Destinations:

While going completely cashless is known for marginalization,  plastic-only destinations bolster the purchasing process for all brick and mortar shoppers. Self-checkouts or store associates dedicated to plastic-only offer quicker checkout experiences for those foregoing cash, especially during peak times. Further, plastic-only destinations also create dedicated traffic flows. With effective signage, shoppers are more likely to find their respective POS. Lastly, plastic-only could alleviate some need for keeping cash drawers stocked. Plastic-only is a forward-thinking win for retailers and consumers, alike.

BOPIS:

One more time for the designer in the back, “Buy Online Pick Up In-Store!” Provide a seamless digital checkout by eliminating check lanes altogether. This practice is a real heavy-hitter as it addresses a variety of consumer concerns (multitasking mayhem) with in-store checkouts. However, proactive merchants should test their omnichannel path early and often to mitigate abandonment in digital purchases.

Managing Changes and Consumer Perceptions

While Millennials may opt for modern checkouts, not all consumers are sold on the retail revolution. Some argue that the self-checkout creates added tasks for consumers, tasks that were once completed by paid staff. “We are doing a lot of jobs that used to be done for us by someone else,” says Craig Lambert. Current POS technology and poorly designed flows can also be a hang-up. Overly-sensitive bagging areas (cue: “unexpected item in bagging area”) and unintuitive checkout designs can leave consumers reeling. Baskets askew, carts jammed, and poor placement of POS systems are unintended consequences of the check lanes evolution. Luckily, there are helpful ways to mitigate these changes.

First, select a strategic retail design partner to resolve issues with flow, purchase path, and POS. Store designs with strategic layouts are must-haves as merchants know. Secondly, we recommend making incremental changes. Overzealous retailers have at times reversed POS changes. A classic tale of too much too fast, these reversals could also be the result of poor implementation strategies. Lastly, we recommend leveraging personnel who once acted as POS attendants to positively elevate your consumers’ experiences. With more help available should they choose it, this element helps positively manage consumer perceptions of the changing purchase path.