Submitted by Will on October 09, 2014

As a retailer, wouldn't you like to help more customers, faster during the holidays? Well, we have 4 tips to help you out. Today's post includes the first 2 and tomorrow's post will include the final 2 tips.

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 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 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.  Barcoding your inventory has an important second win (some would say first):  Barcoding not only speeds check out, but has the added bonus of keeping your inventory accurate.  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 your business and your bottom line.

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 your 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 sections 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 add minutes to your customers’ shopping experience with a separate credit card machine. 

Author: Lombardi, J., Contessa of CounterPoint, Soft Intelligence, Inc. October 2014.
Contributing Author: English, William S., President of English Management Solutions, Inc. October 2014.