Modern retailers face growing pressure to deliver an in-store experience that attracts customers and keeps them coming back. While many retailers have started adopting technology to meet this need, one of the most critical in-store moments has gone unnoticed: checkout.
The current checkout experience is very similar to how it worked decades ago, and this stagnation is a critical mistake. Popspots recently conducted a national study of grocery consumers and learned that checkout is the most important moment in their shopping experience. Consumers rated it 142 percent higher than even the friendliness of store associates. We also found that a customer's checkout experience has significant long-term effects. For 70 percent of consumers, checkout influences their perception of a store more than any other factor. Furthermore, 79 percent of consumers say a negative checkout experience makes them less likely to return.
Retail’s Biggest Untapped Opportunity
Despite its importance, very little innovation has occurred around the retail checkout experience beyond improvements to point-of-sale systems. This despite the fact that the final moments of the in-store experience actually provide one of the biggest opportunities to drive awareness, engagement and conversion among the millions of Americans who shop in stores every single day.
Today, 77 percent of consumers purchase additional products while waiting in line, and one in three shoppers are more influenced to purchase at checkout than anywhere else in the store. However, more than $500 million in sales are lost every year at checkout — in grocery alone — due to misplaced and out-of-stock (OOS) products. Contributing to this is the fact that the traditional approach to tracking inventory and compliance has always been highly manual and time consuming. Offering only limited insights into performance, outdated processes have prevented progress for years. These issues have serious consequences. Sixty-eight percent of consumers say OOS products make them less likely to shop in that store in the future, and 47 percent say OOS issues are most frustrating at checkout. However, with the help of artificial intelligence-powered smart technology, stores can now identify and correct inventory and compliance issues at checkout. This technology not only enables data-driven decisions and improves shopper satisfaction, but also helps retailers recapture the half-billion dollars that slip through their hands every year.
Beyond inventory, the retail checkout is also one of the biggest untapped opportunities for driving brand awareness and engagement, offering captive audiences just waiting to pull out their wallets. In fact, while 82 percent of consumers admit to tuning out digital ads due to overexposure, 60 percent say they would like to learn about new products and brands while waiting in the checkout line. What’s more, the ability to serve contextually relevant ads in the retail checkout line maximizes impact for both stores and the brands on their shelves. Consumers say the ads would make them more likely to engage with the advertised brand (56 percent), purchase the product immediately (43 percent), and look for the product on their next visit (62 percent).
As retailers look for ways to improve both the in-store experience and store performance, it’s clear that checkout can no longer be an afterthought. Moving forward, the winners in retail will be those that prioritize innovation at the final moments of the shopper journey.
Marlow Nickell is the CEO of Popspots, a company that’s modernizing the retail checkout using smart displays and AI-powered technology.
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