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Confessions of a retail associate: Tools of the trade

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What you need to know about next-gen tech 

Store associates are invaluable and underutilized resources when it comes to retail strategy. They are on the floor day in and day out, executing operations and seeing firsthand what works and what doesn’t. They have a finger on the pulse of the customer experience, and hear and see everything from long checkout lines to payment processing issues.

We sat down with seasoned retail associates to get an inside scoop of current obstacles in the retail experience. The following stories take a deeper look into three real world examples of how outdated POS systems fall short, and what retailers can do to combat it.  

Offline functionality helps save thousands in sales

I work in a retail fashion store in Orlando. During a particularly bad summer thunderstorm, we lost power for a few minutes and our POS system went offline. Even after the power came back on, our system took a while to boot back up. It was impossible to assist customers who were looking to checkout. Several customers walked out and never returned, even once we got back online. It’s stressful to see customers that need assistance have a negative store experience and be helpless to assist them because of system issues.

Network connectivity issues cause disruptions that oftentimes are devastating to retailers. For 88% of businesses, the cost of just an hour of downtime exceeds $300,000. Every minute of downtime means fewer sales, so it’s important that your point of sale system is running even when your network isn’t. 

Store associates need the ability to make sales, process returns, access the catalog, and operate business as usual without worrying about data loss or manual reconciliation to get back online. While you can’t guarantee you’ll never have connection issues, you can ensure that your store is equipped to handle it when you do.

Efficient omnichannel checkout is critical for customer satisfaction

I work in a home goods store in Italy, which sees a large amount of international traffic. There are always a fair amount of tourists that come in looking to buy souvenirs to take home. Once I had a man come in who wanted to buy 8 decorative vases to bring home as centerpieces for the reception tables at his upcoming wedding. We only had 5 left in-store, but more available online. I rang him through for the 5 vases in-store, processed the payment, and completed the transaction. I started a new transaction for the 3 additional items from online, input the shipping information, and processed the payment again. Before I could wrap his vases, he grabbed the box and headed out, explaining he was in a time crunch and really needed to go. I understand doing the process twice was really time consuming, but it was a struggle to not be able to provide the level of service that is expected due to the rush. I can only hope his vases arrive in one piece. 

Omnichannel checkout is great, but only if it’s efficient. Even if customers aren’t in a rush, they don’t want to have to wait through two transactions. Customers want to know that you value their time— and the expectation is that the entire transaction will take 5 minutes or less

Associates need the ability to process mixed baskets in one transaction. Efficient omnichannel checkout adds a layer of ease and seamlessness to the customer experience. 

Digital mobility is the key to managing a busy store

I work at a large beauty and cosmetics retailer. One particularly busy night a customer came in looking to find a new everyday perfume. We spent at least 45 minutes talking about the scents she likes, what she does for work, even her go-to outfits. By the time we finally find the perfect one, I feel like I’ve known her my whole life. After grabbing the right size bottle from the back, I realize I now have to show her to the registers where there is a huge line. It feels awkward spending all that time with someone only for them to be handed off to another associate, or wait in line. I’d at least like to see her out the door.

When discussing digital mobility, the POS is probably one of the most applicable areas. Despite this, less than half of retailers empower their stores with mobile POS. Limiting checkouts to only a fixed till inhibits flow and flexibility, which are important elements of the modern shopping experience. 

Customers want a seamless experience. Getting help from one associate on the floor and then being directed to a different one for checkout creates a disjointed experience for customers. Associates need to be able to check customers out from anywhere and walk alongside them when needed.

See how Tulip’s SaaS POS solutions let world-class brands step over archaic monolithic systems with a new approach that combines the simplicity and scalability of a mobile, cloud-based solution with the depth of functionality top retailers need. 

Contact us to see how a new POS can start helping you today!

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