The busiest shopping period of the year is upon us as millions of people around the world hit the stores to buy gifts for their loved ones. For both retail and e-commerce merchants, this time of year can be fruitful as it is hectic—holidays mean higher sales, but there is a greater desire to keep customers as happy as possible. After all, this time of year is likely just as busy for them as it is for you.
So what can you do to help your customers and encourage to come back in the future? One surefire way to make an impression is to improve your checkout process. Time is valuable during this time, and the more of it you can save on behalf of your shoppers might make the difference between them having a good shopping experience and a bad one.
1. Optimize for Mobile Payments
Number one on our list is of the utmost importance. Mobile payments are the way of the future, both online and in-store. More people are making purchases on their smartphones or tablets than ever before, and emerging mobile wallet technologies like Apple Pay are pushing shoppers toward using phones in retail locations as well.
To ensure a good mobile shopping experience for your business, there are a few things you can do. If you have an e-commerce site, make sure it’s equipped with a responsive web design. Responsive design means your website can detect which kind of device—computer, tablet, or smartphone—a visitor is browsing on. The site’s design will then automatically adjust to give them the best display possible, eliminating the need for them to zoom in or out.
Additionally, retail merchants can look into upgrading to NFC-equipped POS terminals for their stores. NFC, or near-field communication, is the technology that apps like Apple Pay use to process payments from mobile devices. All a shopper would have to do is load their payment option on their device and hold it up to the receiver on your payment terminal, and the transaction would be complete.
2. Make Your Online Checkout Process Seamless
According to a study featured in PaymentEye, roughly 80% of millenials will abandon their online shopping carts if a website’s checkout process is slow or flawed. People are more likely to make purchases if they can do it fast and without error, and can lose their patience if they have to hurdle too many obstacles.
This means your web checkout process needs to be as smooth and painless as possible. Take the initiative to simplify your processes—this can mean anything from upgrading to better credit card processing technology to programming your site to remember a user’s payment data so they don’t have to enter it twice. Investing time and resources into your web checkout could mean the difference between a sale and an abandoned order.
3. Study Up on the EMV Transition
If you run a retail business, you likely already know about EMV cards and the importance behind them. While the transition is still ongoing, it is better to fully embrace the shift in technology than to put it off. The reason is this—while you may be aware of EMV technology and what it means from a merchant’s standpoint, there are many shoppers who don’t. As new chip cards are being distributed, many people are unaware of why they’re getting them or how to use them. This can cause huge lines at store checkouts and confusion between your shoppers and employees.
One way to counter this is to do your homework on the EMV transition, and offer what you learn to your customers to expedite checkout processes. Have resources available at the register so people know what to do with their new cards, and make sure you provide extensive training to your employees as well.
4. Coupon Codes and Giveaways
The last item on our list is simple, and can give shoppers some extra incentive to travel through a checkout process. Free extras like online coupon codes or discounts can sweeten the pot for some shoppers, and are a good way to increase engagement with your customers on top of making a sale.
Online coupon codes that can be entered during the checkout process on your site will encourage people to add items to their cart and enter all their information just to see what kind of discount they get. By that time, they’ll just be one or two clicks away from completing their order, which increases your chances of making a sale.
In the retail space, providing free gifts or coupons at the register is a good way to build trust in your brand and encourage people to keep coming back to shop for more. The checkout process is also a good opportunity to register your customers in an email list or other form of membership, which can be good for both online and offline engagement.