Despite continued political uncertainty, macro-economic and skills pressures, confidence among UK small businesses rose recently to a one-year high. This highlights the continued resilience of SME-owners and their overwhelming drive to grow and succeed. But doing so remains a challenge. With so much competition out there on the high street no stone must be left unturned in the push to maximise sales.
This is where a focus on the check-out process can really pay dividends. Are you losing customers or discouraging repeat custom because payments at the till are just too slow? SME owners must meet rising customer expectations or risk losing out to their competitors.
A nation of queuers?
As recently as January the FSB flagged pessimism among some small businesses over the impact on profits of rising operating costs, weak domestic growth and reduced consumer demand. This makes it more important than ever to maximise sales through any means possible. It’s easy to overlook payments as a part of the business warranting extra attention. But by focusing on your check-out systems you could really improve the bottom line.
The British are always stereotyped as a nation of queuers. But this notion is increasingly outdated as consumer expectations change. Research released last year revealed that less than a fifth of UK shoppers are prepared to stand in a queue to pay for more than 10 minutes. Yet the average wait time is just 7.7 minutes, which could mean impatient shoppers dropping out of your queue even sooner. What’s more, three-quarters said they find it unacceptable if there are more than five people in front of them, and almost half (48%) give up and leave if faced with a queue of that length. Worldpay research from 2017 also revealed a growing impatience in-store, with 81% of consumers claiming they will not wait more than five minutes to pay, rising to 85% for men.
Separate research from 2017 revealed that over half of UK consumers (57%) view queueing as their biggest frustration with the in-store experience.
A digital revolution
Perhaps spoiled by the immediate payment experience of e-commerce, UK consumers are clearly growing frustrated with long queues. This is a challenge for retailers, especially those in locations such as train stations and airports where time is of the essence. It can also impact the hospitality sector — particularly restaurants, where customers are often looking for a fast, frictionless dining experience. Over a quarter (28%) of consumers told Worldpay that one of their biggest frustrations eating out is waiting to pay the bill.
So what’s the solution? Innovations in payment technology may well hold the key to maximising sales by reducing the number of queue drop-outs and improving the payments experience in general.
Why? Because UK consumers are not only getting impatient with waiting, they’re also becoming increasingly digitally savvy. We are now a nation of card users: the number of payments made by plastic (13.2bn) overtook cash (13.1bn) for the first time last year with growth in debit and credit card use only set to continue. This opens up a whole world of faster contactless and smartphone payments via the simple “tap-and-go” method.
Contactless payments in particularly are experiencing a surge in popularity, with volumes increasing by 97% during 2017 to reach 5.6 billion by the end of the year, according to UK Finance. It claimed nearly two-thirds (63%) of UK consumers now use contactless payments, with 119m contactless cards in circulation by the end of last year.
Supporting card payments is no longer a nice-to-have. Worldpay research has found that a quarter of UK consumers actively avoid shops that don’t take cards, while just under a third (30%) say they only use cash if absolutely necessary.
Tech-savvy Brits are also embracing smartphone payments via Apple Pay, Android Pay and Samsung Pay. With digital wallets linked to their cards, they can tap-and-pay in the same way as a contactless card at the till, except without being restricted by the £30 upper spending limit. This offers UK SMEs even more opportunities to cut queues and improve the payment experience by offering greater choice to their customers.
These platforms have yet to take off in the same way as contactless cards, but the potential is definitively there. Some 30% of consumers told Worldpay they have made a contactless payment with their smartphone, and a study from 2017 claimed 12% have used Apple Pay within the past month. It argued that UK consumers’ familiarity with contactless may well drive increased adoption of smartphone payments in the future.
The value of EPOS
Mobility is also at the heart of another way you can reduce queues at the till. Modern ePOS systems like the Worldpay Hub feature everything you need to take payments, integrated into an all-in-one tablet-based product. The detachable tablet and wireless card machine can be carried by staff to take payments away from the till in other parts of the store. This can not only reduce queues at busy times but also helps create a more personalised experience for the customer. Staff can also use the tablet to search for stock and even order unavailable items for online delivery or pick-up at a later date.
It’s all geared up to ensure the customer never leaves your store without buying what they came in for. An ePOS system can also help save back-office staff significant time and effort on reconciliation and sales analysis, as it’s all automated. Support for contactless and smartphone payments ensures you’re providing maximum consumer choice to further enhance the customer experience.
The bottom line is that UK consumers are increasingly demanding faster, card- and mobile-based ways to pay. By looking at all-in-one ePOS systems that support the latest payment innovations you can reduce the chance of queue drop-outs and create a smoother, more personalised experience which customers will come back for.
Provided by Worldpay, the UK’s leading payments provider, FSB Payments can help you wherever you’re doing business – face-to-face, online, over the phone or by email.