A Tale of Two Retailers... And the Gap in the Customer Experience
I recently had an interesting shopping trip, which highlighted some of the big differences in payments experience that consumers have between different retailers – and how that can affect customer satisfaction and loyalty.
I was invited to attend a group dinner and wanted to get a new outfit. Not, I’m not big on shopping, and usually do much of it online, but this was a last-minute invite that didn’t afford me the luxury of online search and delivery. So, I decided to head to one of my regular ‘go to’ stores. My first stop was a traditional department store, where I always have luck finding something for my “not-so-athletic” stature. I’ve been a fairly loyal customer of this store for many years, and I had a discount coupon to use (bonus!), so it seemed a natural choice to go there.
My confidence in their product was justified – I found a shirt I liked and started to head to the nearest checkout to pay. As you’d expect from a department store, they had several different checkout areas throughout the store, but each one I went to either had a long line of customers waiting to pay (evidently I wasn’t the only one taking advantage of the coupons) or was not staffed. With thoughts of wearing my new shirt to the dinner, I joined one of the lines and begrudgingly waited my turn.
Wherever (the store assistant) may roam…
One of my other favorite retailers was close by so I decided to stroll over just in case there was something else I could snatch up. I found another item and as I looked around for where to pay, I was approached by a store associate with a mobile device. She asked if I was ready to complete my purchase there and then. Not only did this mean I didn’t have to wait in line, but I could pay instantly at the spot where I had picked up the shorts (ok, I didn’t need those for the dinner, but who doesn’t love a sale?). This was a much faster checkout experience, which created a more engaging experience.
While this second store did also have traditional checkouts, they had invested in mobile point-of-sale (mPOS) devices to prevent customers having to wait in line, and to help with checking inventory and processing orders at the point where the customer was in the store. What a big difference in customer experience! Despite my years of loyalty to the department store, it made me think twice about which store might be my first port of call the next time I need to purchase clothes – especially on an occasion where I am short of time.
The value added by mPOS
The value that mPOS can contribute in the retail environment (and in other consumer-facing sectors too) is huge – it can help retailers eliminate lines (aka queue-busting) and deliver an endless aisle experience by having inventory and a variety of fulfilment options at sales associates' fingertips. The power of insight and immediacy now shifts to the merchant, whereas in the past, the shopper has more likely been the one using a mobile device to find inventory online or comparatively shop. This technology, paired with evolving retail dynamics, offers the change to create more valuable, directo engagement between customers and store associates.
It’s fair to say that across the retail sector, merchants are in many different stages of development where mPOS solutions are concerned, but I think it’s also a sure thing that the right mPOS strategy can deliver real value to shoppers, not mention make a big contribution to customer experience and impact loyalty. It certainly made a difference to me.
Download the UP Merchant Payments solution overview [pdf] to find out how mPOS helps fulfill omni-channel strategy for delivering customer choice.
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