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How to Improve the Retail Checkout Process

How to Improve the Retail Checkout Process

Let’s face it, no-one likes long line-ups. In fact, a slow checkout process is almost guaranteed to result in frustrated shoppers, poor customer satisfaction, and a whole lot of lost sales in the process. 

So, while the brick-and-mortar checkout experience has long since evolved from the standard cash register, shopper expectations have also risen along with it. Used to the convenience that e-commerce provides, today’s retail shoppers expect a similarly fast and easy checkout experience.

That’s why we’ve put together the following tips to help you speed up your in-store checkout. Keep reading to find out how you can provide a frictionless experience that will keep your shoppers smiling while you ring in more sales! 

1) Accept different payment methods 

Nowadays, shoppers pay with a lot more than just cash or card. That’s why accommodating different payment methods can go a long way in reducing lineups and speeding up the checkout process. In fact, the more payment options you accommodate, the easier it is for shoppers to check out efficiently. 

To speed up your checkout process, consider enabling the payment types below. 

  1. Contactless Payments: Contactless payments are a faster alternative to chip and pin transactions. In fact, tap-and-pay technology has been adopted by many major credit card companies – becoming a popular payment option for in-store shoppers. 
  2. Mobile Payments: According to a survey done by Blackhawk Network, three out of five U.S. smartphone users have a mobile wallet. While this is a large chunk of consumers, enabling mobile pay can also help retailers capture sales when shoppers leave their wallets at home. 

Expert Tip! Check your processing contract to see if you are liable for any chargebacks on contactless payments. While the increase in speed may still be worth the risk of possible chargebacks, you will want to minimize your exposure by encouraging the use of digital wallets (Apple Pay, Google Pay, etc.) which have secondary authentication. You can also consider having CCTV coverage in your checkout area to deter would-be fraudulent shoppers.

retail checkout

2) Offer a buy online pickup in-store (BOPIS) option

Convenience continues to play a significant role on the customer’s path to purchase. And notably, checkout is considered to be the part of the shopping experience where convenience is most valued. In fact, 40% of in-store shoppers state that check-out is when convenience is most important to them

And what better way to provide immediate shopper convenience than a BOPIS option? After all, a great deal of retail continues to happen in nearby physical stores as shoppers are looking for something for immediate usage and they can’t wait for delivery. BOPIS solves several problems that have increasingly discouraged today’s customers from shopping in-store by:

  1. Optimizing the customer experience by ensuring that shoppers are never disappointed (e.g. products are out of stock) when they get to the store.
  2. Saving shoppers time when they are in the store – everything is already ready for pick-up. Retailers can streamline the process even further by dedicating certain checkout lines and POS stations to BOPIS shoppers. Don’t forget to merchandise around these areas with high-margin “snackable” products to capture any last minute impulse purchases!

According to an article by the Business Insider, almost 70% of US consumers use BOPIS. Buy online pick-up in-store options significantly increase checkout speed because all shoppers have to do is come to the store and pick up their orders. In some cases, 50% of shoppers state that they decide where to buy based on whether they can pick up their orders in-store.

At the same time, BOPIS also boosts sales and profitability for merchants by improving cashflow with prepaid orders, encouraging more impulse buys in-store, reducing overall delivery costs and minimizing returns compared to e-commerce.

It’s important to remember that BOPIS is most effective when used with a retail POS that can handle “unified commerce” as real-time stock levels are key to product availability. Unified commerce is just another way of saying a total retail management platform that offers a single view of inventory, sales, and customer data across an entire business in real time. As expected, the need for real-time data grows as sales volume and transaction complexity increases.

buy online pick up in-store

3) Upgrade to a line-busting POS

Perhaps the most important decision you can make to speed up your checkout process is to choose the right POS system. With so many different options out there on the market, it’s best to choose a POS that is designed for checkout speed. Particularly, look out for the following features in your POS software:

  • Cross-platform capabilities that let you turn any device into a station. You’ll want to ensure that your POS is mobile-friendly and that it can be run from any device. This will allow you to ring in sales from anywhere in your store when lineups get too long. Which means you can speed up the checkout process for your shoppers based on real-time demand.
  • Easy to navigate salescreen. Look for a POS software that is user friendly and designed for minimum clicks. Ideally, cashiers shouldn’t have to leave the salescreen in order to complete a transaction. 
  • Fast barcode scanning. To ensure a fast checkout process, it’s necessary to choose a POS system that is designed for fast scanning speed. It’s also important that your POS software can handle multiple barcodes per SKU.
  • Advanced inventory search. In addition to the features mentioned above, your retail POS needs to have smart search functions and the ability to quickly recall your last search. This will give you and your employees the ability to search products by keyword, description, or tag in case labels fall off or barcodes are not scannable.
line busting retail POS

4) Train your staff effectively

Having the right POS technology and hardware in place is not enough. Retailers need to consider the people who are actually operating the technology a.k.a their sales associates!

Staff are a crucial part of checkout optimization. Which is why store owners must devote the time and resources to adequately train them. To make things easier, think about adopting a POS system with built-in training tools. This will boost employee productivity and encourage self-service while significantly reducing training costs and time.

training retail staff

5) Email Receipts

While digital receipts are environmentally friendly, they’re also useful in cutting checkout lines. For one, shoppers won’t have to wait for their receipt to print out. And your employees won’t have to waste time refilling the receipt printer – risking the chance of aggravating customers who are already waiting in line.

In addition to streamlining the checkout process, digital receipts also come with significant business benefits, including:

  • Giving retailers an easier way to build email lists and gather customer data
  • Helping reduce fraudulent returns 
  • Decreasing overhead costs by eliminating printed receipts
  • Driving future interaction when you include links to the store website and social media
  • Allowing retailers to include personalized marketing message on receipts boosting customer satisfaction and loyalty

Expert Tip! Privacy is an increasingly important customer expectation. If you are collecting email lists, make sure that your POS system gives you the ability to legally collect consent for marketing directly from your customers.

email receipts

We hope you found this article helpful!

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Valentine’s Day Retail Stock Photos

Valentine’s Day Retail Stock Photos

Valentine’s Day is here! So, to help our store owners out, we’ve put together some Valentine’s Day retail stock photos!

All images are free for commercial use, no attribution is required. 

You can download the photos for free here


Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Valentine’s Day Retail Tips

Valentine’s Day Retail Tips

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner! Which means that it’s time for retailers to spread the love.  

This year, shoppers are planning on spending an average of $196.31 on their loved ones. And with 55% of consumers expected to celebrate, total spending is estimated to reach a historical record of $27.4 billion

The best part is, you don’t have to be in the chocolate or gift industry to win the hearts of consumers! Keep reading to find out how you can take advantage of the record spending expected this Valentine’s day. 

3 Ways to Increase Store Sales this Valentine’s Day 

1. Add a Valentine’s Day section to your store and website

Valentine’s Day is infamous for being a last minute holiday. So, to make it easier for last minute gift buyers and shoppers, place all of your Valentine’s Day related merchandise in one section of your retail store and website.

If you own a physical retail store, dedicate a corner of your store to Valentine’s day so busy shoppers can grab and go. Consider creating a vibrant point of purchase display with Valentine’s Day colours (see the example below). Making use of signage to guide shoppers towards deals and merchandise will also help make the shopping experience more convenient. 

valentines day retail merchandising

With more and more shoppers browsing online before purchasing in-store, it’s also good practice to dedicate a section of your website to Valentine’s Day – regardless of whether or not you sell online.

Have a look at what Mejuri is doing for Valentine’s Day below. The retailer devoted a whole page on their website to Valentine’s day and even created a gift guide for shoppers. 

2. Create a retargeting strategy

Selling to existing shoppers is easier and more cost-effective than acquiring new ones. So, consider retargeting shoppers who have made purchases at your retail store during the holiday season.

To target these shoppers, you can create an email campaign to inform them of your upcoming Valentine’s Day promotions. It’s also a good idea to create a Valentine’s Day gift guide to include in your email campaign. 

In addition to email, running Facebook Retargeting Ads is an effective way to connect with shoppers. Facebook even gives merchants the option of uploading an email list when running retargeting ads. 

You don’t need a crazy budget either – retargeting ads generally perform well with a small budget of $10- $15 a day. 

valentine's day retargeting ads

3) Find a Valentine’s Day angle

Not in the chocolate or jewellery industry? That’s ok – you don’t have to sell Valentine’s Day related items to capitalize on the holiday. 

You can always find a unique angle to sell your merchandise. For example, Apple found a brilliant way to position their products for Valentine’s Day, using the slogan “Love is in the Air” to promote the iPad Air. 

And remember – about half of consumers will not be celebrating the holiday. Rather than alienating this customer segment, cater your marketing message to single people by encouraging shoppers to treat themselves. 

For example, Mac is a retailer that recognizes the power of self-love as a marketing tool. In anticipation of Valentine’s Day, the retailer sent out an email campaign encouraging shoppers to treat themselves for the holiday. 


Happy Valentine’s Day retailers! And happy selling! 

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#valentinesdayretail #sellmore #increaseretailsales #builtforretail #cloudpos #retailpos

Retail Loss Prevention Tips

Retail Loss Prevention Tips

Inventory shrinkage (loss of inventory due to employee theft, shoplifting, vendor fraud etc.) continues to be a serious issue for retailers – both large and small.

In fact, according to the 2019 National Security Survey, industry-wide shrinkage was estimated to be $50.6 billion. Thus highlighting the importance of having a loss prevention plan. 

So, to help you establish a plan of your own, we’ve put together some tried and tested tips and strategies. Check them out below! 

What is retail loss prevention? 

The loss associated with shrink is two-fold; you’re losing your initial investment in the merchandise itself as well as the revenue that the product could have generated with sales. This doesn’t even include reduced customer satisfaction due to stock-outs. 

Which is why store owners should consider retail loss prevention to be a priority. Loss prevention can be defined as a set of best practices that a retailer should follow to prevent product and profit loss. 

In order to better understand how to prevent product loss, you must understand what causes it and how those losses occur. 

According to the NRF National Security Survey, the main causes of inventory shrinkage include: 

  • Shoplifting/external theft (35.7%)
  • Employee/internal theft (33.2%)
  • Administrative or paperwork error (18.8%)
  • Vendor fraud/error (5.8%)
  • Unknown loss (6.6%)

Retail loss prevention tips

1) Merchandising 

As outlined above, the number one cause of inventory shrinkage is shoplifting. Shoplifting can take many forms, whether it’s an individual acting alone and stealing one or two items or it’s a serious case of organized retail crime where thousands of dollars worth of merchandise is stolen. 

merchandising in retail loss prevention

Whatever the case may be, it’s important to take necessary precautions so you can lessen the chances of shoplifting taking place in your retail store. 

The following are some merchandising best practices that can help deter physical theft: 

Merchandising best practices

a) Use effective signage: Make it clear to potential thieves that your store is being monitored. Hang signs around your store warning shoppers that they are under surveillance. Or alternatively, you can use signage to remind them of the consequences of committing theft.

b) Cameras: It’s good practice to place cameras by POS terminals, the entrance/exit to your store, and by any loading/delivery areas. To beef up your security even more, you can also consider hiring security staff. 

c) Mirrors: Smaller retailers may not have the resources to install cameras in every corner of their store or have their employees constantly monitor the aisles. For theses retailers, mirrors are a cost effective option to make a significant impact when it comes to loss prevention. Placing mirrors in key areas and corners of your retail space will allow one or two employees to easily monitor the whole store. It also helps your store look more spacious. 

d) Revise your store layout: Thieves are less likely to act when they are in plain sight of store employees. This is why it’s a good idea to organize your store layout so that employees have maximum visibility – avoid tall shelves and clustering product displays together. Also, consider placing valuable merchandise closer to staff or in locked displays. 

e) Keep your store organized: An organized store is key to deterring theft as well as encouraging shoppers to buy. Keeping your store organized will also make it easier for staff to identify missing product. On the other hand, a disorganized store makes it easier for thieves to operate and can even play a part in attracting them. 

2) Use RFID technology

A radio frequency identification system (RFID) is an advanced technology system used by larger retailers to improve inventory management and protect against shrinkage. It is particularly effective against internal theft and administrative errors as RFID tags are harder to manipulate.

RFID chips contain inventory information and are embedded in product tags or packages. This then lets store owners track product information in real-time. They are especially useful for retailers who are omnichannel as RFID provides item level visibility so you can track merchandise from distribution to sale.

While RFID technology has traditionally been too expensive for small retailers, the cost continues to fall as more and more retailers are using them. In some cases, the cost has fallen below $0.05 per tag. While this may still be too high (especially when you add the labor cost of applying tags), depending on your volume (which may allow you to request your supplier to apply them) or the value of your products, it may still be more cost-effective than any losses you would incur as a result of shoplifting.

To learn more about RFID technology, click here

RFID technology for loss prevention

3) Use a POS system with strong user permissions

Many POS systems give retailers the ability to create different staff accounts and set user permissions. These permissions allow store owners and managers to restrict staff members from accessing certain features in the POS system. Put simply, user permissions are ways for business owners to limit employees from performing tasks outside of their job description and to prevent internal theft. 

It’s a good idea to invest in a POS system with strong user permissions and access rights as it can go a long way in preventing shrink.

Depending on the size of your business, you will want to be able to customize the type of rights different employees have access to. If you have a lot of staff or have turnover due to seasonality, you’ll want to look for POS systems that allow you to easily group employees by different customizable roles. In this way, you can easily set the access rights for a role (e.g. cashier) and then simply assign any employee to this role without having to manually set up the rights for each person.

Use a retail POS with user permissions

4) Manage refunds and returns

Fraudulent returns (returning used, stolen, exchanged merchandise or returning merchandise with counterfeit receipts/money) happen frequently in retail. And while return fraud is harder to assess than shoplifting, a strict return policy can help prevent it from occurring in the first place.

Here are a few tips for developing a practical return and exchange policy that minimizes the risk of internal and external theft:

  • Require the original receipt for all returns and make sure the store’s return policy is printed clearly on all receipts. Most POS systems will allow you to customize receipts to include important important information such as store policy, contact info, and social media. 
  • Make sure employees are strict about enforcing the store return policy. Consider placing a written version close to your checkout tills. It’s also a good idea to have employees remind shoppers of the policy at checkout.
  • Require customer ID to process refunds and exchanges and train staff to spot fraudulent returns.
  • Consider offering refunds only in the payment method used to make the purchase. While there is a processing cost to allowing refunds on credit cards, it is a lot easier for savvy users to process fake returns if it is possible for them to refund using cash. After all, it’s as simple as reprinting a receipt, processing a return and pocketing the cash themselves.
  • Look for a POS system that gives you the option to accept returns with a separate return screen that forces users to associate a refund to past invoices.
have a strict return policy

We hope you found this article helpful. 

If you are a Toronto retailer, you can download the following whitepaper for emergency situations.  

#retaillossprevention #builtforretail #losspreventiontips #shrinkage #lossprevention

Off-Season Marketing Strategies for Retailers

Off-Season Marketing Strategies for Retailers

As a retailer, you’re bound to experience high and low seasons. 

Periods of slower sales can happen for many reasons such as natural seasonality (e.g. Halloween supplies), the weather, or competitive promotions. Whatever the reason for your slump, it’s important to view your off-season or slow periods as a potential opportunity. 

Low seasons are actually the perfect time for retailers to focus on their marketing efforts. With a little bit of creativity and planning, you can make it through your off-season with not only more new customers, but a larger base of followers to promote to. And who knows, you may even find a new revenue opportunity in the process!

Keep reading for 3 strategies that you can use to keep your retail business profitable during your slow periods.


Why an off-season marketing strategy is important

There is a common misconception that businesses should only invest in marketing during their high season. But this isn’t the case. Your slower seasons are actually the time when you need the sales lift from marketing!

In particular, an off-season marketing strategy is key to: 

  • Building local and online awareness: Knowing is half the battle. Shoppers don’t know what they’ve never seen. Marketing during the off-season gives your retail business time to build online presence and brand awareness with target shoppers. You can educate customers on what your store has to offer and how you are better than your competition. This way, once your peak season hits, you will be top-of-mind with shoppers. 
  • Minimizing your overall marketing costs: Ad spend decreases during the off-season as less competitors are bidding on ad space. This means that you can get more exposure at a lower cost versus advertising during your high season.
  • Getting ahead of your competitors: Besides getting new shoppers in your door, marketing during the off-season also gives you the opportunity to start building your own mailing lists or followers. This is particularly important as you need time to attract a following of people interested in what you offer. But by starting earlier than your competitors, you will be ahead of them by having a new list of potential shoppers that you can market directly to during your high season. 

Marketing strategies for the off-season 

When we’re talking about marketing, we are specifically talking about digital marketing. While traditional marketing has its place, for most privately owned businesses, digital marketing offers the easiest way to promote your business, especially during your off-season. After all, today’s average shopper now spends more time with digital content than traditional media.

1) Gather online customer reviews

customer reviews

Online reviews are an important part of the consumer shopping journey. In fact, 90% of shoppers read customer reviews before visiting a business. And according to Google, 2 out of 3 shoppers say having positive reviews was an important factor in selecting a business or store to purchase from. 

With so many people basing their purchasing decisions on reviews, gathering reviews should be a key marketing strategy for your business all year round. But the off-season is usually the best time to ask loyal and long term shoppers to leave a review on your Google My Business (GMB) profile, especially now that you can create a GMB shortname unique to your business. You can then use customer reviews as promotional material across all of your digital platforms including your social media and store website. By staying active online and promoting positive customer testimonials, shoppers will remember your retail business when peak season hits. 

2) Consider paid marketing options 

google analytics

Digital marketing benefits retailers of all sizes as it is always the fastest way to cost-effectively access an incredibly targeted audience of shoppers. The advantages of digital marketing include: 

  • Fast impact: Compared to traditional marketing, paid digital marketing will make an impact much faster. Depending on the type of campaign, you can get up and running in minutes.
  • Flexible and accountable: The results of digital marketing are much easier to see so you can immediately know whether a campaign is working and make changes right away. This is a major difference from traditional marketing where your investment is a one-time deal since you can’t make changes once a flyer or a radio ad is printed or produced.
  • Lower overall cost: A well planned out digital marketing campaign can reach a targeted audience at a much lower cost (as long as $10/day) than traditional marketing methods.

Click here to learn more about the benefits of digital marketing for retailers. 

Run Google Local Inventory Ads (LIA)

Over the past several years, an increasing number of retailers have looked at running Google Local Inventory Ads (LIA) during slower periods. In Sidecar‘s 2019 Benchmark Report: Google Ads in Retail, the LIA performance of several retailers was examined. It turns out, LIA clicks grew by 16% and revenue increased 15% year-over-year.

Sephora, Canadian Tire, and Williams-Sonoma are some of the big box retailers who have seen success with Google LIA. Now for the first time ever, Local Inventory Ads are also available to independent retailers who are looking to attract local shoppers. And the best part? They are available in an automated way that doesn’t require retailers to hire new staff or keep inventory stock levels updated.

To learn how you can easily implement Google LIA together with your POS system, click here.

While Google LIA has proven to be a viable marketing strategy all year round, it is particularly effective during off-season for the following reasons: 

  • Bids are lower: As mentioned above, there are fewer competitors buying ads during off-season – which means lower ad spend is required to gain impressions. 
  • Marketing costs are minimized: LIA only showcases in-stock product and will automatically turn off when stock runs out, reducing your marketing costs. 
  • Get in front of local shoppers who are actually looking to purchase your products: Google LIA displays in-stock product to shoppers within a certain Km radius (you have full control over the geographical range) who are actually searching for products that your store sells.

3) Promote your business on social media 

With the rise in social media and e-commerce, shoppers are closer than ever to retail businesses. Not only do you have a way to directly showcase your products and store, you can now build up your list of followers for personalized offers.

While websites are still a great way to offer a “digital window” into your store, with the rise in social commerce (e.g. Facebook Shops, Instagram Shopping, etc.), it’s very important for retail stores to be active on social media.

Check out these 6 tips to help you grow your social following more quickly during your low season:

  1. Pick no more than 1 or 2 social media platforms to avoid spreading yourself too thin. Just make sure you’re picking ones your target customers commonly use. See how the various social media platforms differ.
  2. Make sure you have a verified Google My Business (GMB) account and are active on it. GMB is one of the best free online marketing tools available for small businesses today. Not only does GMB help local shoppers find you on Google Maps, it has options for you to post content (e.g. special offers or events) which improves your SEO.
  3. Improve your content design with cost-effective graphic tools. You don’t need to be a designer to use drag-and-drop tools such as Canva that even have free versions.
  4. Use original images for the best results as these rank better on SEO.
  5. Don’t forget to include the links to your social media accounts on email signatures, invoices, receipts, ads and on any window displays.
  6. Clearly display your social media links at the cash register and train your staff to encourage shoppers to sign up for special offers while they are waiting.

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#retail #retailmarketing #attractlocalshoppers #retailpos #cloudpos #digitalmarketing #offseason #marketing