You can almost hear it now, can’t you? The toe-tapping, the frustrated sighs, and the inaudible eye rolls. Instead of accepting it, let’s learn how to speed up the retail checkout process.

It’s no secret that the more people you move through checkout in a given day, the more money you make. Time is also money to your customers. By creating a checkout process that moves quickly and efficiently, you give them an exceptional customer experience.

Sold on the idea but not sure how to get started? That’s what this article is for. We’ll give you the tips you need to make your checkout the talk of the town.

Why You Should Streamline and Shorten the Checkout Process

When was the last time you tried to make a quick stop that ended up turning into a much longer detour? It’s frustrating isn’t it? Like you, your customers are busy and they have expectations about how long their errands or recreational shopping should take. They have things to do, places to be and a life to keep living beyond your retail establishment.

In one study conducted by Omnico Group, a survey measured consumer behavior and patience thresholds during the retail experience. The results indicated that approximately 3 in 4 Americans felt less likely to return to a store if they had to wait a long time in line.

Specifically, 8 minutes of waiting was enough to motivate them to abandon their cart and leave the store. The worst news? The amount of time it takes a shopper to abandon their items decreases with age as older customers gave up in under six minutes.

It’s estimated that retail establishments lose billions (yes, with a “B”) per year due to customers leaving before making a purchase. When it comes to the checkout line, efficiency is key to customer satisfaction.

SEE ALSO: Lean and Mean: How to Improve Retail Operations

How to Speed Up the Retail Checkout Process: 6 Simple Ideas that Won’t Break the Bank

Whether you’re a small business or growing at a rapid pace, customer satisfaction and retention have to be at the top of your list. Learn how to speed up the retail checkout process in ways that will not only satisfy your customers, but will also free up employee time to provide excellent customer service at the point of sale.

#1 Buy Online; Pick Up in Store

If your retail business has a companion website, adding ecommerce functionality is a great way to increase sales and make it possible for your customers to skip the line altogether. According to the latest Consumer View report published by the National Retail Federation (NRF), customers now expect businesses to use technology to enhance their experience. The report highlighted that 63% of shoppers felt that tech innovations made their shopping experience more enjoyable. Additionally, a full 67% of consumers viewed the buy online, pick up in-store model as positive.

#2 Leave Upsells for the Aisles

Point of sale upselling techniques are great in a restaurant, but within retail stores, they tend to get confusing and lead to a lengthy conversation that holds up the line. Think upscale big box stores or anywhere that tries to sell you a device protection plan or store credit card. If the purchaser is at all interested in the item, there are inevitable questions about terms or limits.

This can be profitable for the business and the employee (if they’re offered sales incentives), but everyone unlucky enough to stand behind this customer will statistically only wait about 8 minutes before they’re likely to leave. At the very least, they’re frustrated and the quality of their experience diminishes.

Consider posting relevant companion items or offers throughout the store that your customers can see when they first pick up the item. If you’re offering store credit, have a designated customer service desk to assist those interested in signing up – away from busy checkout lines.

#3 Self-Checkout & Mobile Payment Options: Upgrade Your POS System

Customers like choices. In the previously mentioned NRF Consumer View publication, 63% of customers viewed self-checkout options as a positive shopping experience. The same customers also reported that they were likely to use these options again. This is ideal for people who have very few items and just want to run in and run out. It also gives customers who have more items or want a more personal experience the option to check out with a live employee.

Along the same lines, offering mobile payment options cuts minutes off each transaction by reducing the need to swipe cards, enter pins or write checks (the horror!). Technology like Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Paypal make fast mobile payments possible provided you’re equipped with the right point of sale system. With mobile payments becoming more common, customers have come to expect a speedy checkout process. By using a POS system like ShopKeep, you can deliver the experience your customers demand while minimizing the onboarding and training process for your employees.

#4 Send Offers and Rewards via Apps or Email

More retail spaces are using reward programs to build brand loyalty and increase revenue than ever before. The checkout line is often the first place customers hear about such a program, but explaining the benefits and completing the sign-up process can take time. Consider digitizing your reward and incentive programs by setting up kiosks or asking for an email sign-up at the register. It only takes a couple of seconds to record an email address versus the 3-5 minutes a typical rewards program sign-up would take.

Recent research shows that while 81% of customers want to check out quickly, nearly half also want experiences from their retailer. You can deliver both by using an app- or email-based loyalty program that customers can begin to experience immediately in-store and take with them when they leave.

#5 Train Customer Service to Engage the Queue

When the checkout line is moving at a snail’s pace, the last thing you want is your customer to feel as if they’re being ignored by the cashier. Integrate proactive customer service techniques into your new-hire training program and encourage employees to remain engaged with customers throughout the buying cycle.

Use your POS to forecast peak sales hours and plan accordingly by scheduling adequate staff to manage the rush. Promote a culture of valuable touch points throughout your space so your employees recognize when there’s a slowdown in the process and take steps to remedy it. For example, as the cashier is performing a transaction with one customer, he or she can acknowledge those waiting by beginning to ask them about their shopping experience or simply help direct traffic to the nearest open register.

#6 Keep Customers Entertained

One of the happiest and busiest places on Earth, Disney World, can’t avoid the long lines it asks guests to stand in for rides and attractions. But, when was the last time you heard about a Disney World riot on the news? Never. As Harvard Business School points out, Disney has mastered the art of distraction in an age of growing impatience. The park uses characters and performers to keep guests entertained, which in turn, makes the long lines more bearable.

This doesn’t mean your establishment needs to hire a mascot or magician. But what you can and should do is make the checkout process more entertaining by catering to your customers’ needs. Offer bottled water or a guest survey to keep them busy. Or, since the majority of shoppers depend on their mobile device, make free Wi-Fi available in your space. Your customers will be less focused on the wait and more focused on your attention to detail.

A Positive User Experience is How to Speed Up the Retail Checkout Process

The bottom line for retail businesses is checkouts need to be fast, friendly and efficient. Better yet, there needs to be more than one checkout option to meet the changing needs of the tech-savvy modern consumer and keep the line moving. Combine enhanced customer service training with advanced payment solutions to keep your checkout lines running smoothly and customers happy.

Ryan Gilmore is a writer at ShopKeep.

Ryan Gilmore

As Inbound Content Marketing Manager at ShopKeep, the #1-rated iPad Point of Sale System, Ryan Gilmore uses his extensive experience in small business technology to create educational content that helps merchants run and grow their businesses more effectively.