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Take the Stress Out of Your Customers’ Checkout Experience

Make a great final impression.

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THE FINAL IMPRESSION of a store is as important as the first. A customer’s experience at checkout leaves a lasting impression and may be the difference between recommending, or not recommending a store.

How many times have you heard this when waiting with a number of people in front of a checkout counter: The cashier asks “Can I help the next guest?” You think, “ Why have I become the manager of this line!? Why do I have to keep track of the order in which people arrived? Did that guy sneak in front of me? Should I confront him?”

It’s a stressful situation. And this is not the place for a customer to be dealing with stress.

You can make checkout stress-free.

If your counter is not parallel to a wall, relocate it so it is. Add stanchions in front to keep the line organized, so there’s a clear understanding of who’s in line and in what order. There aren’t people milling around the counter. There’s a queue, and it’s clear where they are in line. No stress.

A merchandise fixture can substitute for stanchions, but it needs to be low, so as not to block the view of the wrap. Using a fixture for this creates an opportunity to merchandise impulse items and keep them off the counter. Keep the counter free of clutter.

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There should be a minimum of 30 inches of clear space for the transaction. Some stores have too many impulse-buy items on the counter, and the actual transaction space is cramped.

The associate at the counter needs to be seen clearly. You and I understand the need to do projects when there are no customers at the counter. But if it’s not a project that can be done at the counter, the associate is likely to be focused on the project and not on the customer walking up to the wrap. The customer will then need to find the associate himself. Bad start to a checkout experience.

The counter area should feature your logo. This is a branding moment, and you want customers to remember your store’s name. After all, you want them to recommend your store to their friends. It can go on the wall behind the register, on the counter itself, or be a suspended sign.

The customer service they receive reflects on your brand as well. The associate should make eye contact, acknowledge the customer, and say “Hi.” While the associate is ringing up the sale, he should be friendly, polite and warm. If there are customers waiting or someone is trying to ask a question, those people also need to be acknowledged: “I’ll be right with you.”

Customers want a good checkout experience. Once they’re at the register, the only thing they should think about is taking out their wallets.

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Tom Crossman has designed entertainment centers and retail stores for FAO Schwarz, Dollywood and Toys ‘R’ Us. He was a featured speaker at Global Pet Expo in 2018. His work can be seen at tomcrossman.com, and he can be reached at tom@tomcrossman.com.

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