September 19, 2014

Consumers Love Shopping in Stores – It’s Checkout They Hate

consumers love shopping

If you own a brick-and-mortar retail store and are worried about eCommerce sites or “showrooming” eating into your business, a recent study from Synqera reported in MediaPost might help you sleep better at night. Despite the growth of eCommerce, more than two-thirds of Americans still prefer to shop at traditional, brick-and-mortar stores rather than online.

However, there’s still one part of brick-and-mortar shopping customers dislike. Synqera found the checkout process is the number-one pain point for 73 percent of consumers, and could be what stops them from shopping in your store or makes them turn to online sites.

The majority of consumers say waiting in the checkout line is their least favorite part of in-store shopping. What could make it more enjoyable? While 18 percent think there’s no way to make the checkout process more enjoyable, I can think of several ways.

Speed it Up

With customers growing increasingly used to ordering online with just a few clicks, waiting in line behind other slow-moving shoppers is just too much. Make sure you have adequate staff on hand to deal with expected traffic volumes, and that your point-of-sale technology is up-to-date so it doesn’t slow things down.

Train retail clerks on efficiently prepping the cash registers before the store opens and on using downtime to do things like get change or change register tape (so they don’t have to handle these housekeeping tasks while a line forms).

Get Personal

Personal service is a big factor that drives customers to brick-and-mortar stores, Synqera found: 80 percent of shoppers say they’re more likely to shop in a store that provides a customized experience for them. Three-fourths say they’d enjoy checkout more if they received personalized coupons at checkout.

Consider adding a retailer loyalty program that lets you deliver personalized offers on customers’ smartphones or, for those who don’t want to get coupons that way, at the point of sale when you ring them up.

You can also personalize offers outside the in-store experience by sending targeted emails or direct mailings with offers based on how much the customer has spent in the past, the types of products they buy or how often they shop in your store, to name just a few ideas.

Make Suggestions

Two-thirds of consumers are more likely to shop in a store where they receive personal suggestions while shopping. Make sure your salespeople actively engage with customers, greeting them when they enter, suggesting add-on products to go with what they’re purchasing, or offering advice and insights. (This is a great way to combat showrooming – if customers know they can get the info they need from your sales staff, they won’t have to turn to their phones to look it up and possibly find the product somewhere else for less).

There are also ways to make suggestions without salespeople. For instance, you can display groups of products that complement each other together, such as a camera with accessory battery packs, straps and cases. You can use signage to suggest “Buy two, get a third free,” “Check out our sales items in the back of the store” or “Sign up for our email newsletter and save $5 off your next purchase.” You get the idea.

Suggestions help engage the customer with your store, and Synqera found that the more actively engaged the customer is inside your store, the better they feel about shopping. Which leads to my next point.

Make Checkout Fun

Three-fourths of consumers say they buy more if they’re in a good mood while shopping in-store. One of my favorite places to shop is Sephora. I always hope there will be a huge line at the checkout counter—yes, you heard that right—because Sephora smartly merchandises the line with a display of tempting impulse buys. All are under $20, and they’re so irresistible I usually can’t help grabbing one (or two). I’ve seen more stores using this technique.

You can find more information about the full study on Synqera’s blog.

How do you make checkout more enjoyable for your customers?

Checkout Photo via Shutterstock

5 Comments ▼

Rieva Lesonsky


Rieva Lesonsky Rieva Lesonsky is a staff writer for Small Business Trends covering employment, retail trends and women in business. She is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Follow her on Google+ and visit her blog, SmallBizDaily, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.

5 Reactions

  1. You make some great points. I cringe just thinking about going to a big-box retailer because not only will I have to wait in line, but during that wait I’ll watch the other lines I could have been in to see if I chose the fastest one. So that’s anxiety during the wait and if my line “loses” I leave the store after a negative experience.

    Given that people are vulnerable to recency bias (the tendency to weigh recent events more heavily) than you can see how detrimental it is to have a poor checkout experience as the last thing they remember about your store.

  2. There may be several reasons which make a customer hate checkout. But I personally feel very boring when I see some e-commerce sites pushing the customers to login or register on their site if they want to make a purchase. Why is that? Can’t these sites allow direct checkouts to its guest customers?

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