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Customer Flow Management Tips for Scaling Business Growth

Andreas Hassellöf
Design Lead of Ombori Apps AB

“Customer flow” refers to the consumer shopping experience from start to finish. For retailers, this includes the moment customers enter the store, purchase items, check out, and shop online. “Customer flow management” refers to the process companies use to manage such experiences. To streamline processes and promote business growth, companies have turned to specialized software to resolve real-time customer challenges. 

Ombori has developed a multi-level customer flow management solution to aid retailers in today’s competitive marketplace. Here’s how businesses can use these systems to scale their business:

Leverage Queue Management Systems

Queue management systems are the most popular and effective tools used by today’s retailers. They have transformed the customer experience by reducing wait times and improving satisfaction.

To better understand how this technology impacts retailers, it’s essential to differentiate between the two types of line management products – linear queueing systems and virtual queueing systems.

A linear queuing system employs line management products such as a portable post and retractable belt system or a traditional post and a rope system. Other related products include signage, merchandising fixtures (to enable customers to make point-of-purchase sales while in line), and possibly audio or video alert systems (to inform patrons of when the next available staff member is ready to serve).
A virtual queuing system requires components such as kiosks, video display units, and accompanying software.

Over time, customers have become accustomed to traditional linear queuing systems where they wait in line to get called to the next employee for checkout. However, virtual queuing systems have resulted in new, modified experiences that accommodate customers’ declining attention span. Ombori customer flow management systems offer various solutions, depending on the retailer’s needs.

 

 

Manned Checkout

Some individuals do not want to give up the personal experience of shopping.

They want to continue to interact with employees. However, they want shorter wait times and expedited experiences. 

Checkout assistants can assist in speeding up routine checkout tasks. This one-step button can be used to open or close the checkout process, call a supervisor, or report a malfunction. It allows for rapid adjustment in the number of available checkout lanes, depending on demand. 

New applications for customer flow management, such as Ombori Call Forward, remove the need for actual lines by creating virtual lines. The app places customers in a virtual line and notifies them when it is their turn. Instead of spending time in line, customers can monitor how long until their turn while continuing to peruse the store.

Self-Checkout

Consumers who enjoy the in-store shopping experience but are excited about quick-and-easy purchasing often turn to self-checkout.

This allows them to take control of their exit strategy, avoid long lines, and is often used by those with larger purchases. 

Ombori includes a Guided Selling feature that prompts additional recommendations for customers during the checkout process (e.g., an extended warranty when they purchase electronic goods). This function operates as both a personalization option for clients and a sales opportunity for the company. 

Buy Online, Pick Up In-Store

Online shopping has increased in popularity over the years, as consumers find it more convenient and effective.

However, many still want the option to pick up their products the same day, especially when waiting is not a viable option. 

Using the Ombori BOPIS tool, customers can take advantage of this process. They can select a pickup slot, asking employees to prepare the order prior to their interaction. Customers are notified when the products are ready, and they have the option to cancel when necessary. Such features have improved the online shopping experience for customers, providing them security and direct access to purchased products.

Curbside Pickup

The newest option for customers is to shop using curbside pickup – a trend that has become more popular during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Curbside pickup allows customers to shop and pay online and then visit the store for rapid pickup without leaving their car. The 3-step process – booking, notification, and collection – interfaces with existing e-commerce infrastructure and creates a dual approach to the traditional shopping experience.

Control Occupancy

Controlling and analyzing store occupancy offers retailers numerous benefits.

It provides regulatory compliance and analytics based on real-time monitoring. These workflow functions also benefit customers and improve retention rates. Through real-time monitoring, customers rest assured that the retailer is in line with compliance and occupancy regulations. They can also identify and prepare for expected wait times by monitoring occupancy reports.

Focus on Omnichannel and Unified Commerce

“The future of retail isn’t a choice between bricks and clicks. The future is a unified experience [that] allows for flexible customer journeys [covering] both online and physical elements.” 

Retailers must focus on an omnichannel approach by adopting technology that incorporates both online and in-store elements in a way that is easy for customers to use and for staff to operate and maintain, thereby breaking down silos between the two platforms.

 

How Can Customer Flow Management Equate to Growth?

The digital transformation taking place in today’s business models has proven beneficial.

Implementing, analyzing, and adjusting those models based on technology promotes a positive consumer experience and is essential in today’s competitive market. By adjusting selected business processes, retailers can experience greater fiscal returns. Here is where the impact is truly felt:

  1. With customers spending less time in line, companies are experiencing a reduction in lost sales. Customers are no longer leaving due to irritation caused by long lines.
  2. More interaction and a broader focus on the customer experience have increased consumer satisfaction, improving the chances of consumers returning, referring the location to a friend, or leaving a friendly review online – all of which boost internal sales. 
  3. With technological assistance, employees are experiencing reduced stress. Aided by self-checkout and expedited workflows, they can manage their time more effectively and avoid burnout. 
  4. Staff is working more efficiently, especially during high-traffic times. Analytics allows retailers to identify times when more staff are needed and where to disperse them. 
  5. As a result of increased satisfaction, customers are more likely to return to the retailer, spend more money, and reduce the load on the customer service team. 

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