Posted on: 23 February 2016Share
Nothing will raise a retail store owner's blood pressure faster than the sight of deserted aisles during peak shopping hours. If you're stumped as to why your competitors seem to be inheriting your clientele, your sales transaction mechanisms might be partly to blame. Here are some critical questions you should ask yourself when evaluating your merchant services and other shopping technologies.
"Can Our Terminals Read EMV Cards?"
A quick of review of major Internet security breaches in recent years will reveal several high-profile retail stores whose point-of-sale systems were hacked, exposing a huge amount of private customer data to prying eyes. Nothing will torpedo your customers' trust in your business faster than the notion that your checkout technologies might not offer optimum data security—and in light of so many recent scandals, the old-fashioned magnetic swipers at your checkout stands no longer inspire trust.
Banks and credit card companies have been sending their customers replacement cards equipped with EMV (EuroPay, MasterCard and Visa) chips. These chips, which offer much greater security than magnetic strips, have become a staple of credit card processing services worldwide. As of October 2015, all US retailers were required to make EMV card terminals available to shoppers, with the liability for fraud or other data crimes shifted squarely onto the retailers' shoulders. Switching to this kind of credit card payment system is not only a good way to reassure customers that you're a secure place to shop, but it can also help prevent a catastrophic, business-killing data breach.
"Do We Make It Easy to Buy through the Web?"
As important as it is to make in-store shopping more convenient, you can't afford to neglect the online experience your store provides—or fails to provide. Approximately 30 percent of US commerce now takes place via mobile devices. The owners of these devices may be able to purchase a given product through a dozen different online portals, so they're likely to go with whichever store makes the process as fast and uncomplicated as possible. Where do you stand in that pecking order?
A few essential alterations to your company website can make it much more competitive and attractive to consumers. For starters, make sure you have a responsive web design—that is, one that scales itself up and down automatically to suit a variety of different screen sizes. Next, take a good hard look at your online credit card payment system. If you're relying solely on a traditional online payments system for credit card processing, switch to a merchant card processing provider. Not only are you likely to enjoy lower fees on transactions, but you'll be taking those payments directly instead of relying on a middleman.
"Can Our Store Make Use of Mobile Apps?"
Today's mobile shoppers don't just use their smart devices to find and buy products over the Web—they also enjoy using these devices to enhance the brick-and-mortar store experience. Modern barcode scanning capabilities, push notifications, and other features allow customers to get their goodies and check out more quickly and easily than ever before. Since smartphones have found their way into the lives of 64 percent of the American public, you can count on these technological perks becoming the new norm for retail sales. If your shop is being abandoned in favor of competing companies, maybe you need to reel those fickle buyers back in by appealing to their love of mobile gadgets and conveniences.
You don't have to be a major retail chain to offer barcode scanning and other perks to your mobile device users. Many software firms can create mobile apps for iOS, Android, or other popular platforms. These apps can notify your customers of hot discounts and new deals while allowing them to scan their own purchases as they shop. Speedier service and exclusive offers will help you stay "top of mind" with your target market.
From a more secure credit card payment system to a more mobile-friendly point of sale, you may find that a more modern approach to transactions inspires a fresh burst of interest in your retail store. See what you can do to enhance your technologies—and get ready to enjoy enhanced revenues!