Checked Out of Slow Checkouts?

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24 August 2017

Checked Out of Slow Checkouts?

The August Blog Series | All About Fintech

Issue 8: Checked Out of Slow Checkouts?


If you are tired of slow checkouts, you are not alone. Both brick-and-mortar retailers and eCommerce businesses have struggled to increase the speed of their checkouts for as long as their companies have existed. Faster checkouts leads to happier customers -- and happier customers are customers that will return time and time again. Investing in a faster checkout is an investment in retaining customers. But in order to improve the speed of a checkout, companies need to be able to adapt to new technologies.


The Problem of Slow Check Outs

According to a 2015 survey, 88% of customers want a faster checkout experience. Customers can easily become frustrated by stores that have slow checkout lines -- and they may even leave entirely if they feel like they are being ignored or their time is being wasted. When it comes to eCommerce stores, customers are even more impatient; they are likely to abandon a shopping cart after just a few seconds. Customers feel that slow check outs equate to bad service and they do not want to waste their time.

Slower checkouts also give customers the time to reconsider their purchase and comparison shop. Many customers drop online orders because they have found a cheaper item elsewhere. Customers may second guess their brick-and-mortar purchases when they are standing in line, especially if there is somewhere else they have to be. But all of these problems can be avoided through the adoption of faster check out techniques.


Increasing Check Out Speed in Brick-and-Mortar Locations

New technologies such as tap and pay make the process of checking out much faster -- they simply need to be adopted. Older technologies such as swipe and signature take a substantially longer time to process, and consequently hold up the checkout line. Additionally, because they involve so many steps, there is an increase in the number of times that something can go wrong and require the transaction to be started again.

There are other methods of improving check out speed, such as modifying employee training and adding additional service lines. Unfortunately, these methods are all expensive; adding more staff or adding additional service lines requires more in terms of overhead. Moreover, many issues with check out speed occur during specific times of peak activity; these additional service lines are not going to be required for long periods of time. Thus, the answer primarily leads in new types of check out technology.


Increasing Check Out Speed in eCommerce Stores

eCommerce stores generally have issues with check out speed for two reasons: poor optimization or poorly designed processes. Poor optimization usually involves an over-taxed web service, which cannot respond to queries fast enough. Upgrading a web server will mean that the server can respond faster. Additionally, eCommerce stores can invest in a CDN (content delivery network) as well as take the time to optimize their websites and media for file size and bandwidth use.

Poorly designed processes may walk the customer through too many steps before they finally commit to a purchase. Steps such as creating an account should be optional whenever possible, so that the customer can complete their purchase as quickly as they desire. Customers may fail to complete a transaction if they are required to enter in too much information or if they find their information difficult to verify with the site.


Traditional Roadblocks in Check Out Optimization

  • Customers do not want to adapt -- We have seen this with self-service technologies, such as the self-service kiosks at stores. Many customers have a hard time using self-service kiosks because they are afraid to ask questions -- or they end up slowing down the line because they do not adequately understand the technology. Thus, technology used to improve upon slow checkouts has to be simple and intuitive. There must also be some form of one-on-one introduction so that customers understand the methods used.
  • Vendors cannot afford them -- Chip and PIN technology has only just made it to the United States, in large part because smaller vendors could not afford to upgrade their systems -- or simply did not see the impetus to do so. When it comes to check out optimization, it is in the best interest of the technology companies to provide their equipment to vendors at a low cost or even no upfront cost, in order to increase adoption and normalize the technology.
  • The technology is not there -- Small businesses and businesses which are expanding may find that their servers or equipment simply cannot process their transactions. Moving to cloud-based point-of-sale systems and eCommerce hosting can help.
Companies are going to have to adopt new technologies if they are to improve upon their checkout times -- and individuals are going to need to be more open to adopting these payment interactions as they arise. Together, businesses and customers can create a faster checkout system -- but only if they work together. New technologies and improvements are being made, but what really needs to change for complete adoption are the payment habits of the parties involved.