Point of sale plays a crucial role in enhancing customer relationships – yet many retailers are not optimising their checkout experience.

As the final point of interaction, the point of sale plays a crucial role in enhancing customer relationships – yet many retailers aren’t optimising their checkout experience.

We’ve all had a frustrating experience at the checkout – some of us might even go as far to say we’ve had more bad (or at least average) than good. While some of these might be down to the mood we were in, or circumstantial factors, there are often common themes linking disappointing store visits.

This led me to thinking: what are the deadly sins that make the point of sale sub-par?  

Sin 1 – Pretending the customer hasn’t changed

Senior executives spend a lot of time talking strategically about how customer behaviour has evolved – the increased demands that come from today’s multichannel, instantaneous retail environment – but how many stores actually reflect this evolution?

Assuming that shoppers will simply put up with an outdated bricks-and-mortar experience in comparison to online is somewhat naïve; as more retailers realise the need to reimagine the store for today’s audience, customers will no longer tolerate the shortcomings of current formats.

Sin 2 – Assuming all payments are created equal

Providing a seamless experience at the checkout is all about tailoring experiences to the customer’s preferences. Payments are one easy way to create choice and flexibility, but not all retailers offer sufficient options – or promote all the options available to shoppers.

For example, contactless transactions have surpassed the 1 billion mark, and have overtaken cash as the preferred way to pay for small purchases.

Future-gazing retailers might also want to follow in the footsteps of Boots and Dune, and become an early champion of Apple Pay, which launched in the UK this month.  

Sin 3 – Thinking of transactions as a one-dimensional exchange

The average retail store still views the point of sale as having one purpose: allowing shoppers to pay for goods. However, new and disruptive PoS technology is using cloud architecture to bring multiple applications to the checkout, to increase engagement and market to customers at that all-important final moment before they leave the store.

Sin 4 – Treating the store as a separate channel

Creating strong customer relationships is not just a matter of tending to their transactional needs; today’s PoS technology has sophisticated integration capabilities, to bring operational data to the shopfloor.

Retailers must start to think of the checkout as a point of service rather than a point of sale. The checkout applications mentioned in the last sin not only give store associates greater engagement powers, they bring data from other channels into the bricks-and-mortar experience.

For example, PoS users have the power to check stock levels and locations across the network, place orders and personalise promotions, based on customer activity both online and offline.

How customers shop on the web must be considered within store experiences in order to keep customers truly happy.

Sin 5 – Thinking change will be intuitive

Technology alone won’t drive stronger customer relationships; retailers need to invest as much energy and resources into training personnel how to use new PoS devices to full effect if they want to see maximum return on investment.

Sin 6 – Leaving the point of sale to run itself

This caution is aimed specifically at retailers that have either implemented a state-of-the-art PoS solution, or are on the journey at present. Remember that the management and enhancement of devices is crucial to ensure they are continually driving business value, and maintaining customer satisfaction.

A cloud-based software solution is ideal for managing hardware at the checkout, as this presents technical teams with the ability to diagnose problems, fix them and issue upgrades remotely, causing the least possible hassle to daily operations.

Sin 7 – Ignoring the customer insight opportunities the checkout presents

On the subject of cloud capabilities, the sharing and application of data is crucial to both learning from customer activity, and making changes or improvements based on its feedback. Many retailers are adept at doing this online, but aren’t fully implementing insights in the physical retail environment.

The key to successful, long-term customer relationships is to capture as much information about each shopper as possible, and use that data to tailor future interactions. The latest generation PoS technology is giving businesses access to a greater depth of information than ever before. The onus is on retail decision makers to make sure every member of their organisation is using the full capabilities of these customer-facing devices to deepen shopper engagement.

  • Jonathan Wharrad, business development director EMEA, Moki