Tips For A Faster Retail Checkout

Tips For A Faster Retail Checkout

Long line ups in retail stores lower profitability for retailers. In the past year, 86% of US shoppers have left a store due to the frustration of long waiting times to check out. The problem is only getting worse as people have less patience when shopping in store after the pandemic and many retailers are understaffed.

If you want to avoid losing sales, you need to think about how you can speed up your checkout process. Here are 6 tips for faster checkout speeds.

Simplify your checkout process

Line of customers waiting for checkout, last person in line is holding their bladder in while clutching toilet paper for purchase
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Reconsider the amount of detail you ask from a customer during your checkout process. While collecting phone numbers and emails are helpful for future marketing, they require proper consent today due to privacy laws. More importantly, having your cashiers ask customers for these details can really slow down checkout and increase customer frustration.

We understand that having customer info is useful for marketing purposes so you should train staff to collect this information only when the store is not busy.

At the same time, add QR codes at the checkout and around the store to encourage shoppers to sign up to newsletters or to follow you on social media. This is a more convenient and faster way for shoppers to agree to receive marketing from you and it doesn’t slow down your lines.

Reduce the checkout routine where possible

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During the pandemic, it became more common for retailers to make changes to their normal processes. This is particularly true with checkout processes. As more people pay with credit card that have payment notifications, shoppers have changed their expectations regarding receipts.

If you’re understaffed or you sell products that are not likely to be returned, you can consider training your staff to ask customers if they want receipts after every sale. More and more shoppers are skipping on receipts since they already get payment notifications. This will not only help you save on paper and be more environmentally friendly, it will cut down on precious checkout time.

If you do want to keep track of customer sales history, collect emails and also mobile phone numbers when creating customer profiles. This will give you several ways to market to customers in the future, and it will allow you to associate a transaction to a customer during checkout using a unique nine digit telephone number instead of asking for names or emails which take more time to look up.

Encourage electronic payment

Cartoon man looking sad as his credit card gets declines at a payment terminal which slows down checkout speeds
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If you tend to have lineups, electronic payments will pay out for you in the long term. While accepting cash means avoiding processing fees, fewer and fewer people carry cash nowadays. The additional tradeoff of slower checkout (perceived worse customer service) and greater human error makes it critical for many retailers to offer different forms of electronic payment.

Make sure that you are using an in-store point of sale system that offers direct card terminal integration. This will help you speed things up even further by eliminating the need for your staff to punch in the invoice amount on the card terminal. This will help you move shoppers through lines faster, reduce human error and the opportunity for employee theft compared to cash.

Keeping up with staff training

Stacked binders, with the middle one being labelled "STAFF TRAINING"
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One major cause of slow checkout in stores is not enough employee training. Making sure that your staff know how to use your POS system and answer customer questions effectively are key to minimizing delays. This not only affects how quickly you make sales, it significantly impacts the customer experience for shoppers. American Express found in a study that 33% of consumers have considered switching stores immediately after poor customer service.

Have enough store signage

"We Accept Debit & Credit" Sign for checkouts
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Training staff to answer questions is always crucial but commonly asked questions can be responded to faster with clear signage. Making the checkout process faster not only makes customers happy, but it also helps employees. They don’t have to keep answering the same questions over and over again. Some good examples of this are:

  • Make sure customers can see what ways they can pay at the front of the store and at every cash register. This way, they don’t have to wait in line and then find out they can’t pay the way they want to. This is particularly true for contactless payments as it’s common for many shoppers to use their smartphones for smaller, routine payments now.
  • If you have set limits on tap, put up friendly reminders at the cash registers to help people know what to do. For example, if you only allow it under a certain total amount to limit your liability, remind shoppers to insert their cards in the chip reader and/or to wait until the transaction is done before taking the card out.
  • Put small signs near the card terminals so people know where to tap their cards if they want to pay that way. Different terminals have the tap readers in different parts of the device.
  • If you want people to pay a certain way, put the logo of the method at checkout so people know it’s available. This is particularly true if you charge convenience fees or offer cash discounting.

Expert Tip – A reminder that there is no chargeback liability with contactless payments. Merchants are responsible for any chargebacks when shoppers tap their cards or smartphones to pay. If chargebacks are a problem in your store, you should consider keeping your contactless limit low – e.g. only allow tap payments below $100.

Use new technology for a faster checkout

Get faster checkout speeds with TAKU

Not only are newer POS systems easier to use, they allow you to sell in more flexible ways. With TAKU, you can easily offer the following all a single system:

  • Buy online, pickup in-store which helps you pre-sell with payment. It’s easier to set up a pickup only counter for junior staff to cover with minimal training.
  • Sell from anywhere inside or outside the store with mobile POS. Turn any device into a sales register to check out customers wherever they are shopping.
  • Self-checkout screens that allow customers to line up to order or pay for items themselves.

Functions like these allow customers to shop and pay in the way that is easiest for them, all while helping you sell faster with a better customer experience.

TAKU Self-checkout kiosk banner
How Brick & Mortar Businesses Can Attract More Shoppers In Store

How Brick & Mortar Businesses Can Attract More Shoppers In Store

Originally published April 5th, 2022

As Spring is finally here, people are going to be heading outside much more often, especially after the last several years. With increased foot traffic outdoors, retailers should be looking for ways to bring some of that foot traffic into their own stores. If you are a retailer, you may be wondering: “How can I attract more local shoppers?” Well, in this article, we’ll go through how brick & mortar businesses can attract more shoppers.

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Exciting in-store experiences to attract more shoppers in store

In-store experiences have definitely become more common. People today are always looking to participate in new experiences. Here are some ideas for interesting experiences you can curate for your consumers:

1. Photo ops

Set aside a small space in your store (or even outside your store) where customers can take photos and share their visit on social media. This space should get customers excited. Some ideas include: a chalkboard with some unique art related to your business, a custom neon sign, or even an installation of some beautiful plants along with some decoration. Get creative here, and allow your brand to shine through. Don’t forget to put up photos of other shots for ideas.

Chatime's "TIME TO PAR-TEA" neon sign
Chatime has installed neon signs with their signature “time to par-tea” catchphrase where people can take images of their drink and share it online (source)

The pictures your customers take will end up advertising your store for free through the customers’ social media posts. It also creates a positive association between your brand and the consumer.

Reminder: Offer a small incentive to get shoppers to tag you in their posts. Tagging is important to increase visitors to your social media accounts.

2. In-store events

Another way brick & mortar shops can attract more shoppers is through exciting events in store. By events, we don’t mean things like sales and promotions. Although those can be effective, we recommend running events such as: lessons/classes in something related to your business, having an expert in your industry come in and host a seminar, or the reveal of a new product line.

Loblaws' cooking classes
Loblaws offers PC cooking lessons for customers to take and learn new recipes (source)

Make sure that the event you are hosting provides value to your business. The event should be related to the industry your business is in, but not something you already offer in some way.

For example, a vacuum shop could host a seminar on how to go about spring cleaning. The vacuum store doesn’t offer spring cleaning services, but people who are planning their spring cleaning will most definitely be using vacuum cleaners. So offering them a guide on how to effectively go about the cleaning will give them an added benefit and encourage the purchase of a new vacuum.

Dyson vacuum demos for customers
Dyson letting in store customers test out their products against eight types of debris (source)

Even if they don’t end up purchasing a vacuum, this event will still bring them into the store, but more importantly the event will allow the customer to perceive your brand as the expert on cleaning. Now they will be more likely to think of your store when considering their next vacuum purchase.

3. Partner with others to host pop-in shops

Another way to increase foot traffic in your store is to host pop-in shops for other businesses. This works best when the other businesses are related but not directly competitive to yours. Simply designate a spot in your store to host another small business’s pop-up stop to offer items that help sell your own products. For example, a bakery shop could host a pop-up shop for a small artisan jelly business or a coffee shop could host a pop-up donuts business. 

Etsy's pop-up shop in Indigo
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Attract more customers in store through low cost merchandising tactics

Retail merchandising is key to creating a positive customer experience. A strong merchandising strategy brings the products to your customer rather than the other way around. Here are some modern merchandising tactics your business can use to engage your customers. 

1. Storefront Window Display QR codes

A cost efficient way to attract more customers in your store is to use QR codes in your window display. This allows them to be accessible to everyone passing by. These QR codes allow anyone with a mobile device to easily learn more about your products, even when your store is closed.

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QR codes are easily changeable which allows you to regularly update them every time you change your window display.

INSTRUCTIONS ON HOW TO PRINT FREE QR CODES

2. Helpful cross-selling signs

A way to modernize your store merchandising strategy is to use signs to cross-sell other products. Most in-store signs today take up space but only promote one specific product. Adding cross-selling signs allows you to use the same amount of space but promote multiple products at once. Simply merchandise products together that are known to be bought together and create a sign that presents that to your customers.

Liquor store complementary product signage to attract more shoppers
This liquor store pairs to ideal products together with the help of a simple sign (source)

Adding signs that say “Buy this if you like this” or “This goes great with this” is simple, but it’s enough to draw attention to other products.

3. Highlight your Google profile & Google Reviews

Another way brick & mortar shops can attract more local shoppers is to highlight popularity and your Google reviews. Google prioritizes local businesses when nearby shoppers search online. Make sure that your Google store listing has accurate information including your address, store hours, etc. A good omnichannel system will be able to easily manage this information for you.

Highly engaged reviews are important for new customers that have never visited your store. A sign at the front of your store stating “ Google best seller” or a good quote from a Google review would attract new customers into your store. Some ideas include:

  • Printing out users’ reviews and placing them near the product
  • Placing a sign at the front of your store with the products that are gaining the most recognition on Google
  • Putting up a sign that offers an incentive for shoppers to leave reviews
Google on a smartphone showing product reviews
Check Google reviews of a product in-store to showcase it to customers (source)

Omnichannel to attract more shoppers

Retail stores that sell in-store and online use omnichannel software to easily turn online visits into bigger in-store sales. Omnichannel software is what allows retailers to offer real-time inventory and BOPIS (Buy Online, Pickup In-Store or what is sometimes called Click & Collect) to customers without any manual work. With the right system, customers can place orders online and pick up in stores when the same system notifies them that the products are ready.

1. Real-time stock availability

Showing real-time store stock levels online allows customers to see real time stock availability so they won’t be disappointed when they get to the store. A positive shopping experience encourages returning customers. Using a tool such as TAKU’s built-in integration to Google or to your own online store lets you easily showcase your available store products online without any effort.

Google SWIS Example
TAKU’s Google inventory integration in action

2. Buy online pickup instore (BOPIS)

Customers love to shop online but don’t love the shipping costs or the amount of packing materials used to send products out. By allowing them to pick up their order in store it solves their problem while also creating an opportunity for your business to upsell, lower merchant processing fees and reduce return rates.

Scout, a gift shop in Toronto, offering curbside pickup for their online orders (source)

BOPIS reduces the friction between your online store and your in store experience for happier shoppers. And using the right all-in-one technology will increase sales while reducing the operational costs of fulfilling from the store.

Attract more customers by offering In-Store Exclusives

In-store exclusives are a great way to attract more nearby shoppers. Local customers are willing to shop in person instead of online if there’s a strong value-add. You can give your customers this reason by offering in-store only exclusives. Here are a few in-store exclusives you can offer: 

In-store only promotions/deals

You can create an exclusive feeling for your in-store shoppers by implementing promotions and discounts offered only with an in-store purchase. This is where your store can offer any promotion or deals worth sharing. Some examples include:

  • Offering some products only in store
  • Grouping bundles of your products and selling them as a combo
  • Giving coupons that can only be redeemed in your retail locations
Michaels $4 Grab Bag deal
Michael’s $4 Grab Bag is a in store only deal that lets customer buy a box  with various holiday or seasonal items and puts a single price of $4 on them (source)

Creating a seamless shopping experience for your store has never been easier with TAKU. Besides running all of your in-store and online sales in one system, our built-in free Google listings allow you to easily advertise your real stock availability to nearby customers. TAKU Retail can also help you easily integrate BOPIS into your business. If you want to learn more about it, click the button below for a free demo.

Attract more customers in store with TAKU
How To Plan For Pre, Peak, and Post-Holiday Shopping

How To Plan For Pre, Peak, and Post-Holiday Shopping

Originally published on September 20th, 2021.

October to December marks the peak shopping season for retail stores. It’s a time when many retailers plan for an increase in shoppers. As the world moves out of the global pandemic, retailers need to be ready for customers with new shopping behaviors.

Pre-Holiday

According to a Google study, 70% won’t consider purchasing something without seeing it online: whether it is an ad, browsing through a website, social media, or email newsletter. This means that retailers need to start ramping up on their online efforts early: whether it is sending weekly newsletters or updating social media on a regular basis, “online storefronts” are more important than ever to shoppers.

Think With Google, 2021

People often flip between discovery (window-shopping) and shopping (looking for products mainly based on functions or features) until they are ready to make a purchasing decision. Of the two, discovery is more emotional and can often override the rational thinking behind shopping. Which is why online “pre-shopping” discovery is so important to the entire shopping process now.

A Statista survey showed that up to 50% of people are planning to do their holiday shopping in-stores. This means that retailers need to be ready to showcase new merchandise and discounts online to shoppers even before they make it to the stores.

Retailers need to gather more customer reviews so that they appear higher than their competitors on Google searches. Read more on how to get more customer reviews here.

Peak-Holiday

In 2020, up to 79% of people left their holiday shopping until one-week before Christmas. This is good news for retailers because they are able to push their efforts to the very last minute. The same study showed that 64% of shoppers planned to shop in-stores. After more than a year of restrictions, people are eager to get out. This is great for physical stores that are able to target shoppers when they’re nearby.

Convenience plays a huge role in purchasing decisions today. “Now near me” searches have grown 100% worldwide. Options for store-managed e-commerce have also increased a lot. Because some shoppers will always leave holiday shopping until the last minute, local stores have a major advantage. After all, everybody has experienced shipping delays given the increase in online shopping. Instead, more local shoppers are searching for ways to buy online and pickup in store (BOPIS) to avoid delays.

The key to successfully offering store pickup for online orders is inventory accuracy. This means using store operations software that offers real-time stock information in-store and online. One way to make sure that your store appears online is to use Google’s free product listings and Local Inventory Ads (LIA). Learn more about how to increase foot traffic to stores with Google here.

For last minute shoppers, retailers can offer store pickup. Not only does this avoid delivery delays, it helps encourage shoppers to purchase extra items when they come to the store for their orders. Make sure that your order pickup area is well-merchandised with suitable impulse products. And consider switching to an order pickup system that will allow staff to checkout customers. There’s nothing worse than losing sales from a in-store shopper just because a customer doesn’t want to line up again to pay.

Post-Holiday

13% of all retail purchases end up being returned. This means that retailers could be juggling huge losses in January. In the US, 1.75 million packages were returned in January 2021, and that does not include returns in store!

Keeping the return process simple and painless is key. It is especially important for retailers to create an easy process as 89% shoppers who have difficult return experiences will not shop at the same store again.

As the holiday frenzy winds down, retailers should cycle back to the pre-holiday selling tactics and tips to gear themselves up for another selling season. Read more about our off-season marketing strategies here.


Want to know more about Post-COVID merchandising?

post covid merchandising checklist

What Is A Social Retail Strategy?

What Is A Social Retail Strategy?

Social media is all around us these days. Everyone from kids to grandparents are on at least one social media platform. So it is important to learn how to use this modern tool to boost your brand both online and in person. In fact, there are strategies for retailers focused around social media. Yes, there is such a thing as a social retail strategy. Today we will take you through what such a strategy is, and why it is important for you to have one in place.

So, what is social retail?

Art of social retail
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Social retail is an essential part of a modern omnichannel retail strategy. Social retail is using social media to communicate and engage with customers while also selling to them in-store and online. In a nutshell, the strategy succeeds by rewarding customers for sharing products they love. After all, many customers love to share their new purchases and favorite brands on social media. This is especially so when that product or brand aligns with their personality. The idea of social retail is to incentivize your customers to continue doing this – hopefully making it a habit.

For those who are familiar with word-of-mouth (WOM) marketing, social retail is just a modern, digital version. You want customers to be so happy sharing your products that their friends and followers begin to try them out as well.

It’s important to remember that it isn’t only about sharing your brand and products on traditional websites or social media channels. Some of the top performing brands in social retail feature their products on virtual platforms as well, in other words, metaverse retailing. A great example of this are some brands releasing their collections on Bitmoji. Even though they are not yet making money off of Bitmoji users wearing their brands, they are generating a lot of brand awareness.

You should keep in mind that a social retail strategy is not ideal for every type of retailer. Are you selling the type of items people would like to share? Are your customers the type of people to even want to share their purchases? These are some of the questions you should consider before investing in a social retail strategy.

Why you should do it

Illustration of people engaging in word of mouth marketing
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Whether or not your business has a large social media presence, it’s still common for customers to post about their experience online. If you provide a good experience, customers will advocate for your business and products online. It was found that 92% of consumers believe suggestions from friends and family more than advertising. So maximize this free promotion by having a social retail strategy that includes referrals.

Since social media is a place for people to connect and communicate online, it’s the best place to start or continue building a loyal community for your store. Once a community is established, your community members will be some of the most frequent buyers. They will even act as ambassadors for your store by promoting it to their friends and families. The beauty of the community is that users will inevitably end up building connections and bonds through shared experiences and values. This will boost the positive feelings associated with your brand – reinforcing your brand’s loyal community. Through a brand community paired with the right customer management tools, you’ll get to know your audience more and have better data and understanding on their expectations, wants, and needs.

How to do a social retail strategy

The first step is to decide which social media platforms you will use. It’s always better to use more than one, but take some time to consider which ones your customers are more likely to be active on. When setting up business profiles on each of them, make sure you are tagging your page with common keywords associated with your business. For example if you have a grocery store, you will want to use tags or hashtags such as: grocers, produce, food, etc. On top of that, you want to make sure your profile pictures are consistent across the board. These two steps will really help customers to find your profiles on social platforms.

Example of a social media calendar
Learn how to develop a social media calendar here!

The next step is to start creating content and posting! Make sure that your posts aren’t just random. Schedule them out and organize what type of posts you want and how often you want them uploaded. Create a good mix of promotional content, fun content for engagement, and content that speaks about the values of your brand.

Try to encourage customers to post or tag about your products! You can do this by showcasing their posts on the company account, having photo opportunities in-store for them to post about, hosting small giveaways or events for them to take part in, etc.

Just a reminder, not all of these examples work for all business types! Pick methods you think would work best for your own business. As long as the end goal is to encourage customers to share. Finally start adjusting your accounts and what you post based on feedback & data from your customers.

A social retail strategy is almost a given in 2022. If you haven’t started one yet, now you know why and how you should start. With 59% of the world on social media – you should be investing time and energy into boosting your brand on social and digital channels.


TAKU Retail has all of the tools needed to start selling on social media, and collect data on your customers. These essential tools will help you engage in the ultimate social retail strategy. Start today!

How Can I Make My Business Accessible

How Can I Make My Business Accessible

Accessibility is an important feature to have in any business. Around 15% of people around the world live with a disability of some sort. In the US alone, this statistic is 26% of the population – about 61 million adults with a disability. Given the numbers involved, it’s important for retailers to consider whether their operations and products appeal to disabled people’s needs.

Besides automatic doors and wheelchair ramps, there is still a lot that retailers can do when it comes to accommodating disabled people.

Why is accessibility important

Icons of people with different accessibility needs
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As we’ve mentioned, a good portion of the world lives with some form of disability. And as a retailer you want to make it as easy as possible for all potential customers to shop with you. A survey conducted in the UK reported that 78% of disabled people found it difficult or impossible to access most shops and malls. Making stores more accessible to 78% of disabled people is an easy way to increase your customer base and improve sales.

Access for people with disabilities improves access for everyone.

Community Tool Box

At its core, accessibility in retail is ensuring as many people as possible can easily shop with you. When most people think of making a store more accessible, they often think about making it easier for people who use wheelchairs or canes to access the store. But accessibility can include more than that. It is also about making sure anyone can read the signs in your store, or that anyone can feel comfortable in your store.

The types of accessibility issues

The types of accessibility issues
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There are a few types of potential accessibility issues your shoppers could have. The common barriers to accessibility are:

  • Visual: This is for people who have a hard time seeing things, or even those who cannot see at all.
  • Mobility: This is for people who have difficulty moving around, such as people in wheelchairs or people with crutches.
  • Auditory: This is for people who have a hard time hearing or cannot hear at all.
  • Learning and/or cognitive: This is for people who may have learning disabilities such as dyslexia.

It is important to consider whether your store is inaccessible to people who fall under one or more of these categories. Are you doing enough to provide a satisfying shopping experience to these people?

The issues that arise from inaccessible retail

Besides just the financial losses a store can get from inaccessibility there is more to consider. At the end of the day, people with disabilities are still people. We must be empathetic to their concerns and needs.

Boy in wheelchair looking at stairs
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When stores are inaccessible, people with disabilities are further made to feel like they are not a valued member of society. Just imagine if every time you had to go shopping you had to deal with an obstacle course at the same time. It would make you think that the business does not want you there or is making it as hard as possible for you to be there. Unfortunately, this is the reality many disabled people have to live with.

Some other consequences that can arise from your store being inaccessible are:

  • Injuries
  • Exclusion
  • Stress & anxiety
  • Problems getting to certain products or services

This surely makes you ask, how can I make my business more accessible?

How can you make your business accessible

Hopefully you now have a better understanding of what accessibility is. Now we can move on to the most important part – how to actually make your business accessible to more people!

Evaluate your store

The first step is to take some time to assess your store. Are there places where people may have trouble with accessibility? Perhaps a certain aisle is too tight for people to move through easily if they are using a mobility aid, such as a wheelchair. Or maybe some of your signs are hard to read due to small lettering. Even things such as lighting can affect accessibility. Make a list of all of the potential issues within your store so you have an action plan to start.

Drawing of a checklist
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Understand your region’s accessibility regulations

Each country, state or province has its own rules and regulations when it comes to accessibility. Make sure you do some research into what your region specifies. This will also help you prioritize tasks within your action plan.

Examples of accessibility features

Accessible parking
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Here are some common solutions to accessibility issues. Keep in mind, these are just a few examples.

  • Ramps and automatic doors
  • Accessible parking
  • Large lettering on signage (72pt font is a standard size for more accessible readability)
  • Wide doors to allow people in wheelchairs or walkers to pass through
  • Braille on some signs
  • Comfortable lighting (not too bright but not too dark either)
  • Using patterns instead of only colors for differentiation for those with poor color vision
  • Flexibility at the point-of-sale (portable card processing machines or with long cables, ample room at self-checkout stations, etc.)
  • If you have TVs or screens, make sure closed-captioning is turned on
  • Include people with disabilities in your marketing
  • Be open to suggestions from people with disabilities

Take action!

Now that you know your region’s regulations, and you know what in your store needs work, you can begin taking action.

Once you have core accessibility issues resolved, you can take extra steps to make your customers with accessibility feel more included. Examples of this include:

Shopping cart with magnifying glass attached
This store has magnifying glasses on shopping carts to make reading fine print easier (Source).
  • Offering products which will appeal to people with various physical needs
  • Quiet spaces to give consumers a break from all of the hustle and bustle in your store. This is very effective for customers who experience sensory overload.
  • Have magnifying glasses that allow visually impaired people to read smaller texts and labels
  • Review websites and online stores for sufficient meta information for user navigation (versus just product information) as those who are visually impaired often use audio tools to read aloud online content
  • QR codes on product labels which will allow customers to inspect product information from their smartphones which have built-in accessibility modes
  • Hiring employees who know sign language

These extra steps will really help customers with disabilities feel included and accommodated.

Train your staff

Accessibility training
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While having accessibility features is a great thing, it is important that your staff, the people who represent your business, are also trained to serve customers with disabilities. Making sure that all of your staff are trained in the basics of accessibility etiquette will result in every customer getting the best customer service. You can find some services and products that help with disability awareness/etiquette training here.

Online accessibility matters too

Web accessibility illustration
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As mentioned above, accessibility doesn’t just stop at your physical store, but extends to your online sales channels as well. A survey in the UK showed that businesses lose a combined £17 billion due to a lack of online accessibility. This highlights the economic importance of making your digital sales channels accessible, beyond it being the right thing to do.

Make sure it is easy to navigate your website and that you include alt-texts on all images and navigation functions (e.g. buttons). Since people with visual impairments use applications to read aloud website content, alt-texts on images help describe and differentiate them to users.

Ensure readability on your website. Use legible fonts, clear color contrast and appropriate font sizes. This extends to captions on any video that may be on your website. Also make sure that you are using headings to organize text content on your site. Having a structure to your text content allows it to be more understandable to users with cognitive disabilities. For more info on web accessibility check out this Hubspot article.

Accessible businesses thrive

The best type of businesses are able to serve as many customers as possible. And offering access to those with disabilities, improves access for everyone. This makes your business more successful and a stronger member of your community. Please take some time as soon as you can to evaluate where you can improve accessibility in your business.


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Recession-Proofing Your Business: What Sells During A Recession?

Recession-Proofing Your Business: What Sells During A Recession?

Welcome to part 2 of our Recession-Proofing Your Business series. In the first part of this series we went over strategies that retailers can use to handle the recession. Some of these strategies included:

  • How to use software automation to reduce operational costs
  • How to reduce inventory based on changing customer needs
  • How to improve your relationship with customers.

In this blog, we will explain why consumers needs recession-proof products.

What are recession-proof products?

As the name suggests, recession-proof products are items that traditionally sell well during a recession. These are the type of products that people will keep purchasing even when money is tight. Here are 4 ways to tell if a product is recession-proof.

1. Inelastic demand

Elasticity with products or services is a way of explaining how shopper behavior changes when retail prices and household finances change.

When something has elastic demand, it means that any small change in price or the economy will have a big impact on whether customers will change the way they shop. The best examples of this are discretionary products. This is products that are not essential such as clothing or vacations. When the price of these items increase or people are short on money, more people will buy less clothes or take less vacations.

In comparison, products with inelastic demand are things shoppers will keep buying, even when retail prices increase or they are short on money. These products are usually seen as ‘essential‘, without any good substitutes. Products such as prescription drugs, tobacco, salt or mobile phone plans are good examples.

Maselow's hierarchy of needs
Maselow’s hierarchy of needs (Source)

Remember that essential products aren’t always things needed for survival, but they are products that shoppers feel they cannot stop buying. This can include products that comfort people during difficult economic times such as recreational products which satisfy certain emotional needs. Maselow’s hierarchy of needs above is a good way to think about whether a product you sell is inelastic. Products that satisfy needs higher up in the pyramid are more likely to be inelastic and harder to substitute.

2. A easy way to escape

Escapism art
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Uncertainty during a recession can lead to a lot of stress and anxiety. People will be looking for ways to escape from these tensions. So products that entertain people and help them keep their mind off of things often sell well during a recession. TV streaming, video games, junk food, alcohol, and similar products are examples of this. In the last part of our Recession-Proofing Your Business series, we touched upon the idea of the lipstick effect. This is a great example of how people shop based on the need for escapism and comfort during a recession.

3. Whether a product can be stocked in bulk

Canned food stockpile
(Source)

Whenever there is inflation, people want to stock up on certain products to avoid paying a higher price in the future. As a result, every day essential products with long shelf life will do well in a recession. As long as supply is reliable, essential products such as canned foods, rice, toilet paper, dish soap or instant ramen noodles that can be sold in bulk will continue to sell.

Encouraging shoppers to stock up on shelf stable products is known as stocking the pantry. By selling products in bulk, even at a lower price, retailers make marginal profit on the same sale and limit the space available in a household for shoppers to stock competitive products.

4. Seen as a lower-cost option

If you sell elastic products (non-essential products), it’s always a good idea to offer lower-cost options during a recession. This can be something as simple as smaller sizes or features. Making a smaller sale is still better than losing a sale completely. As long as you are clearly communicating how features vary between differently priced options, you will still be able to offer higher value products for those who can afford it.

You can also use the Apple’s Goldilocks strategy. Placing an expensive option next to a decently-priced option makes the cheaper one seem like better value.

Here are a few examples of how smart retailers are offering wallet-friendly versions of popular products during these inflationary times.

Flonase - the lower cost option
Retailers sell two versions of the Flonase nose spray. One with 72 sprays and one with 144 sprays. Giving consumers a choice between spending more to get more uses, or spending less. (Source)
Sales prices to illustrate anchoring
Uniqlo uses the idea of the Apple’s Goldilocks strategy here. Where you show an item at a higher price right next to a cheaper item. The more expensive product doesn’t look much better than the sale item, so consumers feel as if they are getting a great deal. (Source)

This is the same, even if you sell services or subscriptions. For example, it’s a good idea to offer lower cost subscription plans to avoid cancellations. The best example of this is what Netflix has done recently with their new ad-supported tier. By offering a downgradable plan, more shoppers will keep Netflix versus cancelling their subscription.

Tiered pricing for Netflix
Netflix Canada’s pricing table for the different tiers of membership (Source)

Recession-proof product categories

Now that you understand some of the reasons that drive shoppers to buy during a recession, let’s take a look at some examples of product categories that sell well when times are bad.

Food

This one is obvious since people need food to survive. As we said earlier, food that has a long shelf life will perform better when times are tough. The demand for cheaper food will always increase when shoppers are looking to save money. Of course a recession won’t stop consumers from purchasing food, but you can expect shifts in the type of food they will choose to spend on. If you’re a grocer or you sell food at your store, take the time to consider how to change your product line to meet these new shopper needs.

Self-care products

Collage of various self-care products
(Source)

Products for personal hygiene, self-care, and beauty have historically done well during recessions. This is thanks to the lipstick effect. However some of these products are also necessities, such as: toiler paper, soap, towels, etc. These products are needed by consumers and demand will generally remain stable.

DIY products

DIY lifestyle products also do well during recessions. This includes products that help improve your home (e.g. gardening tools, drills, hammers, nails, lawnmowers, etc.). Other examples include DIY products that give people an affordable creative outlet such as home decor projects or hobbies. It also allows consumers to save money as they will not want to pay a service for things like home maintenance during a recession. After all, DIY is a form of escapism and helps people de-stress.

Pet products

Pet food next to a dog and cat
(Source)

Pet products are strong recession-proof items as people consider their pets as members of their family. So they are not going to be forgotten during a recession. Especially essential products for those special family members. These include: food, litter, treats, and waste removal bags. Pet products will remain inelastic in demand throughout a recession.

Recreational products

A physical film collection in a store
(Source)

Once again people’s need for escapism helps another product category remain recession-proof. Recreational products are a staple during a recession. Lower-cost recreational products perform even better. A deck of cards, board games, cheaper video games, and cost-effective movie streaming are all examples of great recreational products. However these recreational products don’t only have to be in-home options. People will look for way to escape outdoors as well, sports equipment and camping gear are other great recession-proof products.

Off-price products

A discount tag on clothing
(Source)

Off-price retailing is the strategy of buying out-of-season or overstocked branded products and selling them at heavily discounted prices. Off-price shopping increases during recessions so if you have any distributors or suppliers willing to sell you their extra stock at a lower cost, you can also look at offering branded products at prices below MSRP.

Conclusion

Now that we’ve gone over product categories which have historically done well during a recession, you should review your own product mix to determine if you’re selling the right things during these tough times. If you are seeing success with other categories, please feel free to share your thoughts with us below in the comments.


To deal with a recession, investing in tools that optimize your operations is key. TAKU Retail is helps you manage your entire store and ecommerce operations, all under a single login. At the same time, we’re constantly adding new features to help our merchants deal with labor shortages. Click below to learn more about our new self-checkout feature to sell more with less staff.

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