Retailers around the world, especially small-to-midsize ones, often struggle to match the efficiency of e-commerce. Grocers have felt this too, especially during the pandemic, as customers have seen how simple it can be to find the items they want online and checkout on their own schedules. Digital/mobile payment options make completing the purchases feel almost instantaneous.
With in-store retail, however, customers often have to deal with the hassle of checkout lines. In fact, over half of shoppers globally have left a store without buying anything due to lines being too long. In the U.S. alone, long lines cost retailers $100 billion a year, according to a 2021 survey commissioned by appointment booking software provider Qudini.
If and when customers eventually get to the cashier, the actual payment can be slow too, whether they’re counting cash, trying to figure out where on a payment terminal to insert their credit card, or using a QR code that seems to need the perfect conditions to scan properly. But it doesn’t have to be so inefficient.
If retailers want to close the convenience gap on e-commerce, they need to improve the checkout experience. Using more efficient payment methods, such as near field proximity technology enabled through mobile device audio components, can speed up the checkout process. That means a better experience for customers and lines that move faster.
Why Current Checkout Methods Fall Short
When a customer goes to pay at a physical retail or grocery store, most of the options tend to be slow. They’re also often clunky or not very accessible. These include:
- Cash: Physical cash tends to be the slowest payment method. From the customer counting their money, to the clerk then checking that amount, to putting it in the register, providing change, and generating a receipt, the whole process takes between 15-20 seconds, as a LISNR field study finds. That adds up when you’re dealing with a steady stream of customers day in and day out.
- Credit cards: While LISNR’s study does show that using credit cards can improve checkout speeds, this payment option is still struggling to provide the contactless user experience that customers want. Additionally, consumers are more driven to pay through their mobile phones, where they can experience the convenience of an electronic wallet tracking their payments.
Perhaps a greater barrier is that in many countries, not all retailers can afford credit card processing infrastructure. Even if a store can invest in this technology, many customers in these markets do not have credit cards anyway.
- Mobile payments via QR codes: Direct payment wallets on smartphones provide an intriguing option to improve checkout efficiency, as many markets without credit card infrastructure do have mobile payment access. However, these mobile wallets tend to rely on QR codes that get scanned at checkout. The problem is that this process tends to still take a while, as consumers struggle to get their phones to scan correctly.
QR codes typically need to be scanned within four inches and aligned properly with the scanner. While falling short in meeting the accessibility needs of people with disabilities, issues with lighting and vibration can also prevent successful scans. The clerk might then have to physically take the customer’s phone to scan it for them, which isn’t always a great experience for either party, as it’s no longer contactless.
The Better Way Forward
While the use of direct payment wallets is on the right track, the application so far with QR codes has been missing the mark. Instead, digital wallets that use smartphone audio components for near field proximity scanning, such as that provided by LISNR AutoConnect, can vastly improve the checkout experience.
LISNR Autoconnect uses technology that is already available on most mobile point of sale (mPOS) devices and smartphones to complete payments. The ultrasonic scanning can occur from up to a ½ meter away and happens within a couple of seconds. That means this mobile pay checkout process can also be contactless, rather than having customers touch payment terminals or hand a phone to a cashier.
Altogether, this technology can improve payment efficiency by up to 67%, finds a LISNR field study. Add it all up and a single checkout lane can increase shopper capacity by 10%, based on an average of two minutes per checkout transaction (including ringing up items) for 10 hours per day.
This improvement in payment speed means retailers can reduce the risk of customers walking out of the store due to long lines. And by creating a better experience in this aspect, that helps close the efficiency gap that might otherwise draw customers to online retail.
Want to learn more about how you can increase checkout efficiency with data-over-sound contactless payments? Get in touch with LISNR today.