Exploring the influence of retail POS systems on customer satisfaction
You may think that your point of sale is only an operational system that functions to serve the ins and outs of the store. While that is partially true, the significance of the POS extends beyond operational and technical functions to impact the overall customer experience.
While store associates bring the human element that customers value— especially in the post-pandemic world— customers now have digital expectations as well, and the POS plays a vital role in supporting associates to meet these new standards of efficiency while maintaining a personalized touch.
The problem is, many retailers are relying on POS systems that were built without these functions in mind. In fact, more than half of retail POS software and about 40% of the hardware systems are more than 5 years old. When the POS can’t support the associates in the way it needs to, the customer experience falls flat, as does satisfaction with the brand.
Retailers are embracing next-gen POS systems as the only path to progress.
Still not convinced your POS has the power to dictate your customer-brand experience? Here are three key ways in which a retail POS can impact the customer experience and influence customer satisfaction.
Driving speed and efficiency
The dramatic increase in quarantine-fueled online shopping changed customers perhaps forever. The checkout process— which once took an eternity waiting in queue— now could be completed with just a few clicks. So, returning to stores now seems more time-consuming than ever before, which makes it not worth the trouble for 50% of shoppers.
In-store wait times have become a problem for 92% of retailers and 84% of consumers. And, with 9 out of 10 consumers saying the checkout experience determines whether they will continue shopping with the brand, something needs to change. It’s clear the legacy systems of yesterday can’t keep up.
Modern POS systems are more efficient, they streamline the checkout process, and improve the overall speed, thus reducing the amount of time customers have to wait. With features like integrated payment options, pricing and promotions, and omnichannel capabilities, a well-designed POS system can expedite transactions— even mixed-basket ones— and contribute to a positive customer experience.
Additionally, next-gen POS systems are typically smaller and handheld, meaning they take up far less space which allows for more in the store. Where retailers used to be limited to 2-4 clunky registers, they can now equip every associate with a POS meaning they can expand the number of checkouts to the number of heads they have on the floor. The flexibility for retailers to scale up or down according to store traffic allows for a much quicker and smoother process when it comes time for customers to checkout.
Offering highly-personalized service
Personalization is everything in today’s world. With the rise of social media and subsequently the advent of social media marketing, people are bombarded with “personalized” advertisements and messages from every angle. And, while retailers may think this helps them offer a more personal experience with the brand— to the tune of 85%— only 60% of customers agree.
What it means to be personal has changed, and there is a major disconnect between what retailers think customers want and what they actually want. Whereas once upon a time it was acceptable to segment customers by shared characteristics, the expectation now is for a completely 1-on-1 experience. Customers want to be seen and recognized as a unique individual with preferences, history, and personality, not as a number or just another buyer. The POS plays a pivotal role in delivering the right customer experience through personalization.
Modern retail POS systems integrate seamlessly with the retailers’ digital clienteling solution. By capturing customer data and purchase history, the POS system empowers store associates to provide highly personalized and tailored service. Armed with insights into customers’ preferences, past purchases, shopping habits, and personal details such as anniversaries or upcoming vacations, staff can offer recommendations, suggest complementary products, and deliver a more personalized shopping experience on the store floor or through 1-on-1 communication via text or email.
Providing accurate inventory and product availability
Inventory may seem like the last thing that would concern your customers; however, it can actually make or break their experience. 60% of customers say that they visit stores because they need to touch and test items before they commit to making a purchase. So, when items aren’t available, or when they cannot find the answers they’re looking for, it can be discouraging or downright unappealing.
Retailers need to anticipate customer needs and ensure products are accessible to customers, regardless of their location. Additionally, associates should be knowledgeable about the brand’s full suite of products to answer whatever questions customers may have (which nearly half of shoppers already expect).
A robust retail POS system is equipped to handle these challenges. By tracking real-time inventory levels, associates can provide accurate information regarding product availability— such as whether an item is available at another store or if it needs to be ordered online. Next-generation systems with omnichannel capabilities enable associates to order items for delivery to the customer’s doorstep, all while on the sales floor. With a digital inventory catalog, associates have comprehensive details on every product, empowering them to answer any question with precision.
This prevents disappointment caused by out-of-stock items and allows customers to make informed decisions. Additionally, accurate inventory management reduces instances of overselling or underselling, preventing canceled orders or unfulfilled promises.
The POS in action
Indigo provides a prime example of how the POS can support an optimal customer experience. As Canada’s largest bookstore chain, Indigo faces significant foot traffic during the holiday season, which historically created long checkout lines, causing stress for both customers and store teams. However, after implementing Tulip’s Point of Sale system, which runs on iPads that allow mobility, Indigo successfully transformed the checkout experience. According to Indigo’s CDO Andrea Lombardi, “Mobile POS units allowed us to significantly reduce long lineups by processing transactions one-on-one with customers quickly and efficiently using just an iPad. It creates a powerful connection when you start a conversation with someone on the sales floor and finish with the same person, making customers feel well taken care of.”
Unlocking a fulsome customer experience means letting them choose to start wherever they want with us, to end wherever they want with us, and for that to feel seamless. — Andrea Limbardi, CDO at Indigo
Since its establishment in 1996, Indigo has expanded its offerings beyond books and music to include electronics, toys, decor, fashion, beauty, and outdoor furniture. With millions of SKUs across online and physical stores, it is nearly impossible for every associate to be an expert on every product. However, Indigo found a solution by leveraging Tulip’s Endless Aisle, a digital catalog solution integrated into their POS. This empowered associates with comprehensive product knowledge to accurately answer customer questions instantly, without the burden of memorizing every detail.
Combined with 360-degree customer profiles that include past purchases, associates can deliver highly personalized recommendations, such as suggesting authors similar to the ones customers recently purchased or other titles they may enjoy. Crafting compelling stories about why a customer might appreciate a particular product not only drives sales but also positions the brand as a trusted advisor, fulfilling customers’ needs beyond being just another retailer.
Bringing it all together
These three factors—driving speed and efficiency, offering highly personalized service, and providing accurate inventory and product availability—collectively contribute to a positive customer experience by reducing friction, delivering personalized attention, and ensuring customers can access desired products.
Retailers that invest in robust and customer-centric next-gen POS systems effectively enhance customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Want to learn more about how a next-gen POS can help create your ideal customer experience? Contact us today!