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News flash!! Americans are impatient!!! We don’t want to wait 30 seconds for our computers to boot up or take 5 minutes to get out of our cars to get our Big Macs. We want everything fast and that includes checking out at our favorite retail establishments. So how do you help your retailers make that need for speed work in your favor as you gear up for the busy shopping season?
The #1 recommendation is barcoding your inventory. Any and everything that can hold a barcode label should have one. When your client’s customers come to check out, the POS clerk should be able to scan the barcodes, take their payment, package their purchases, and help the next customer. Having them barcoding their inventory has an important second win (some would say first): Barcoding not only speeds check out, but has the added bonus of keeping an accurate inventory. Barcoding assures you that the right items are being paid for and taken out of inventory. Barcoding is the #1 business process that will truly impact every portion of a retailer’s business and bottom line. QuickBooks POS has barcoding built in to the system. Call our office if you need help showing your clients how to use it.
After Barcoding, the next would be to have an integrated credit card system. Integrated credit card processing means the credit card is swiped directly into the POS register, not swiped in a system outside of your register (called a Zon Machine). Why is this so important? To process a credit card on a Zon machine, the clerk first has to ring the ticket up in the POS system. They then stop, turn (or take a few steps), and swipe the customers card into the Zon. They have to manually type in the amount (correctly, I hope), and then wait for the machine to return with an authorization code, and then print two receipts. The clerk then turns (or takes a few steps) and hands the slip to the customer for their signature, finishes the transaction in the POS system, prints off the POS receipts, and staples the credit card receipt to the POS receipts, and hands both to the customer. What’s the extra time needed for this process? Between 60 and 90 seconds. That doesn’t sound all that bad until you understand the overall productivity loss from this procedure.
Let’s say you are doing $1M in sales with an average ticket of $ 62.50 and 75% of all your sales are credit card transactions. That means you are handling 12,000 credit card transactions each year, which, at a scant 60 seconds per credit card slip, represents 200 hours a year!! Doubt the math? Time a credit card transaction on a Zon machine, and you will find that 60 seconds is conservative. It is a huge time suck! And, during the holidays, three people in line means that the last person is waiting 3 extra minutes for just your credit card processing. If I’m the fourth, I may not wait. Every retailer knows that during the holidays, many people will walk in, look at the lines, and walk out. Don’t have your client add minutes to their customers’ shopping experience with a separate credit card machine. If you have discussed integrated processing before, it may be time to start the conversation again. There are now several companies offering integrated credit card processing so we are finding everyone is getting more competitive on rates.
Implement Touchscreens. The cost is about $250.00 more than a standard screen and the payback is measured in months. Why does this make a difference? Two factors: first, POS clerks learn faster and can process tickets more quickly on a Touchscreen. The days of a keyboard driven system that requires you to remember Alt+F2 as a command on a POS system should be long gone. Shorter training times and higher retention of information means more productive time in the store stocking the shelves and focusing on customer service. POS also allow you to set up “buttons” for items in inventory that can’t be barcoded. Services and items sold in bulk (neither can be barcoded) are two examples of how a “button” can help speed up the customer’s experience.
The last item is, unfortunately, the most often overlooked one and that is employee training. No matter how long your POS system has been deployed, your client will have new clerks working during the holidays. Make sure they have a “sample” or “play” company set up in your system and they are comfortable with all the common things they are going to be asked to do.
- Make sure they know how (or if) you take a personal check
- How to ask the customer for a different form of payment, if a credit card is declined.
- How to void a line on a ticket, if customers change their minds about something during checkout
- How to sell a gift card
- How to print a gift receipt
These may seem obvious, but new clerks (and sometimes old ones) need to be “refreshed” on all the basics. Don’t lose a sale because a clerk is asked to do something that they’ve simply forgotten how to do quickly.
Most retailers will make at least 40% of their overall revenue in 60 days. The holidays will determine if their bottom line is green or red. Don’t have your client’s lose a single dollar of sales because their check out was slow. Here’s to a happy, healthy and check out fast holiday season.
J. Lombardi and Will English
Author: Lombardi, J., Contessa of CounterPoint, Soft Intelligence, Inc. with Contributing Author: English, William S., President of English Management Solutions, Inc., October 2014.