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Checkout lines, a crucial element that affect consumer mindset

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Checkout is the last impact of the experience you offer to the customer, and making it as convenient and pleasant as possible helps to build shopper loyalty.

An interesting study from M/A/R/C Research, which was recently discussed on Retailwire, says that of 13,000 customers surveyed, 43 per cent of them said that long queues at the checkout/billing counter would affect their decision to shop at a particular retailer in the future.

It was found that four out of five shoppers are satisfied with wait times at stores in most cases. However, it also found that 10 per cent were exasperated enough to leave a checkout line if the wait became too lengthy.

The survey, conducted in April, found that customers are satisfied (79 per cent extremely/very satisfied) with an average wait time of about four minutes or less. The only exception is for club stores, where an average wait time slightly over four minutes was deemed still acceptable by those surveyed. After four minutes, the satisfaction levels drop considerably across seven other channels: grocery, consumer electronics, department, drug, home improvement, mass merchandisers, and office supply stores.

However, the good news for Indian retailers is that consumers who were surveyed are not from this part of the world. But, most of the Indian retailers cannot deny fact that they are imitating the western model, and future of their store/mindset of their consumer could be the same. Moreover, unlike the United States, organised retail accounts for only about five per cent of total market; the challenge here is to retain consumers and pull them back to the store. Indian consumer will always have an option to go and pick his daily needs from the mom-and-pop store, where there are no queues, no barcode scanners, no electronic billing and no guards to peep into the shopping bags.

What can you do to enhance the checkout of the shopper’s trip? Retailtainment is one way to do so, says Dan Nelson, CEO, Leadership Resources (quote from retailwire). According to her an overhead TV that show CNN latest news flashes and sound-bites; front-end music that is directed only to check out lines; store managers walking the check out lines to thank shoppers for their patronage; re-vamping the checkout areas to be less cluttered with impulse stuff; offering samples to shoppers in the checkout on things like hot cocoa on a cold day, or something refreshing if it is hot outside and focus on making this last 20 feet in the store as pleasant as possible, can help in enhancement of final impression with the shopper.

Last year, Associated Press did a story that informed that in Maryland, hand-held scanners are available for consumers at Bloom stores in Scaggsville and Rockville and a Martin’s Food Market in Eldersburg. These scanners allow consumers to scan their products themselves while picking them from shelves.

Once shopping is finished, customers head to the front of the store – a process that involves scanning a bar code generated by the personal scanner, swiping a personal card and – of course – paying. Shoppers are randomly picked for audits to ensure items haven’t been placed in the shopping cart without being scanned.

The process saves time, consumers can watch what they are spending, and it is a convenience.

– By Ranjan Kaplish

(The Retailwire discussion on this topic, with expert comments and poll results, will soon appear in Editorial/Analysis section of Indiaretailing)

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