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Educating Employees Is Vital In The ‘Post Wal-Mart’ World

Competing on price alone is no longer a guaranteed win in the retail industry. With mobile devices in hand, shoppers can compare prices in real time. The key to winning customers and gaining long-term loyalty is improving the customer experience. One of the best ways to improve the shoppers’ in-store experience in this “post Wal-Mart world” is by arming store associates with information, noted Paula Rosenblum of RSR Research, citing findings from the recent RSR study titled: “The 21st Century Store: The Search For Relevance.”

Rosenblum recently joined NCR in a webinar to discuss the RSR Store Study findings and how retailers can win in this demanding and competitive marketplace by innovating the checkout experience.

RSR Findings

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Winning retailers are focusing on convenience as a way to improve the in-store experience, according to RSR. Convenience can be delivered in a number of ways, including better-educated employees, cross-channel consistency, offering a “shoppable” store layout; and providing rapid checkout.

Empowering employees has received the greatest increase in focus for retailers in 2011, with 51% considering it a top priority, compared to 35% in 2010. This focus on employees is now trumping “Increasing revenue while holding down costs,” which dropped in retailers’ priority lists, to 39% versus 57% in 2010.

Mobile technology is a primary means for delivering employee empowerment, confirmed by 53% of retailers who are actively engaged in adding mobile technology-enabled touch points for store managers in 2011.

NCR Focuses On Checkout

For its part in improving the in-store customer experience, NCR is focusing on shortening shoppers’ time in the queue, offering coupons and promotions at checkout, and improving the overall tendering process.

According to NCR, a focus on these three areas can increase basket size, improve product awareness and better educate consumers. “The checkout is the final opportunity you have to increase last-minute sales and revenue,” noted Julie Huffman, Senior Human Factors Engineer, Customer Experience Counseling at NCR. “Second, keeping your customers engaged with make them more satisfied and loyal. If you can educate them while doing so, even better.”

Advanced checkstand design and impulse purchasing layout can substantially increase at-checkout purchases, NCR reported. In a recent customer case study, impulse purchases increased from 1.0% to 14.5% when the legacy checkstand was replaced with the latest checkstand solution.

Digital signage also can play a key role in increasing customer loyalty and basket size. Product information can be displayed digitally at strategic locations in the store, such as at the point of transit, at the point of wait and at the point of sale. “Things to keep in mind here are to communicate the right message at the right time,” noted Huffman. For example, “At impulse and checkstand, use the digital sign to enhance the customer experience and educate the consumer.”

For more on the RSR Store Study findings and NCR’s approach to the checkout experience, click here to access the webinar titled “Upgrade Your Customer Experience By Fine Tuning Your Checkout.” 

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