When you get in line at the grocery store, you probably choose the line that appears to be moving at the most efficient pace. If you see the lines next to you moving faster, you might even switch. There’s an entire mathematical theory dedicated to waiting in line — called queuing theory.
If a shopper comes in to make a quick purchase of just a few items and finds they must wait in a long line to do so, they might leave the retailer altogether. Grocery stores recognize what a meaningful impact an expedient checkout process can have on consumers.
The well-known express lane is one way grocers shorten wait times. Fifteen items or less means those shoppers who came in just to buy a few things don’t have to wait in line with the same people who are unloading their overflowing carts onto the conveyer. While this setup works, you shouldn’t stop there.
Technology is taking over the checkout experience, and it’s improving the process beyond the express lane.
Mobile Payments as Alternative to EMV Chip Cards
Sometimes a slow checkout line comes from transactions with cards powered by EMV chips, which store cardholder data. These chips, implemented for security, are embedded into credit cards. They slow down the checkout process because shoppers must wait until a final tally is determined before inserting their card into a reader, then wait for confirmation that their payment has gone through before removing it.
Visa has come up with a solution with their Quick Chip, announced in August 2016. This feature allows EMV card insertion and removal to take place in about two seconds. This will be up to stores to implement though.
While research and advisory firm Gartner reports EMV chips help decrease counterfeit fraud, some grocery stores have had to add extra lines to make up for the longer wait times. As an additional countermeasure to long waits, mobile payments are expected to increase in response to EMV.
Mobile payment options can still incorporate EMV chip security, yet there is no need to insert a card and have to wait. Market research company eMarketer predicts mobile payments in the U.S. to triple in 2016, with one in five smartphone users putting them to use. This contactless form of EMV payment makes a secure checkout faster.
Infrared Technology Anticipates Shopping Crowds
QueVision, the infrared technology that Kroger rolled out in 2012, helps the retail food chain determine how many shoppers are perusing items at a given time so its stores can properly staff the checkout lines. When a customer walks into a Kroger, the tech accounts for them. Business Insider reports using the technology has cut in-line wait times down from four minutes to 30 seconds.
Adopt an Efficient Point of Sale System
Invest in a point of sale system that gets customers on their way with a speedy checkout but also helps keep your business on track with integrated inventory management.
QuickBooks Point Of Sale is an all-in-one solution that includes real-time sales reporting and inventory management, and it integrates seamlessly with QuickBooks. Additionally with QuickBooks POS, you can manage customer lists and use them to build a loyalty program to give shoppers instant discounts and offers.
This all creates a personalized shopping experience that helps to increase sentiment for your store, and there’s no extra time spent waiting in line.
Self-Checkout Gets a Boost from Smartphones
Self-checkout seems efficient at first glance, until you see customers scramble and scroll through to find prices for unmarked items or produce with no barcodes. And when something isn’t bagged properly, the beeping starts. What these customers want is to avoid having to deal with waiting in line or a leisurely clerk.
Self-checkout may become more appealing with a contactless concept, which would allow consumers to scan individual items with their mobile phone while shopping. A tap of the smartphone at a self-checkout kiosk when they’re finished allows shoppers to be on their way. Mobile marketing campaigns and rewards programs for store members can easily be tied in based on the mobile data that is collected while the consumer is shopping.
Consumers continue to demand near-instant gratification. The Harris Poll reported in June 2016 that 31% of Americans have purchased food products online in the past six months. Ordering groceries online isn’t the norm just yet, but anything grocery stores can do to make the in-person shopping experience more expedient can help retain more business.