Work smarter, not harder. In sales, that means increasing productivity without increasing effort. Instead of getting bogged down by paperwork, data analysis, and menial tasks, sales associates should focus on developing leads, building relationships, and increasing customer satisfaction. Today, businesses are turning to technology to help streamline sales operations and increase productivity.
Many retailers have discovered how customer flow management can lead to increased satisfaction and more revenue. “Customer flow” refers to the entire shopping experience from start to finish – from entering a store and purchasing items to checking out and shopping online. “Customer flow management” refers to the process of managing such experiences. To streamline processes and promote growth, companies have turned to specialized software like Ombori Grid.
Technology: Helping Businesses Streamline Sales
Technology continues to transform business with disruptive breakthroughs, and sales are one area that these advancements have profoundly impacted. From prospecting to closing, sales operations are being revamped through the use of big data and smart technologies. Making use of these tools in the right way can help a business achieve smoother processes, better productivity, and increased revenue.
Here are some of the top technologies retailers rely on today:
Increasing Customer Satisfaction through BOPIS
Today’s customers appreciate being able to shop safely from their homes and pick up orders when and how they choose. This degree of consumer empowerment is aided by BOPIS technology, or the ability to “buy online and pick up in-store.”
BOPIS occurs in three phases:
1. Order Placement: A customer orders items online or via a mobile app and selects in-store or curbside pickup. When the order is ready, the customer is notified on their mobile device and picks up the items at their convenience.
2. Order Fulfillment: The retailer fulfills the order. If an item is in stock, a worker retrieves it and prepares it for pickup. If an item is not in stock, the customer can choose to have it shipped to the store or see if it’s available at another location.
- 3. Order Pickup: Depending on the option they select during checkout, the customer can pick up the order inside the store, curbside, or at a designated locker.
By collecting data through Ombori’s BOPIS solutions, businesses can better understand customer motivation and create appropriate promotional offers. Such data reveals the following:
- How often do consumers use BOPIS and why
- Curbside versus in-store pickup preferences
- Features and events impacting the BOPIS experience
- Type of purchases most likely to result in a pickup experience
- Customer feedback
BOPIS can help businesses streamline sales operations and increase revenue in additional ways:
- Reducing staff needed: While employees still need to retrieve items from sales floors and stockrooms, retailers can save labor costs by implementing pickup lockers.
- Improving customer experience: People can shop safely from home, avoiding stores and shipping costs. They can also return items directly to the store.
- Expediting checkout: Customers can avoid standing in line and enjoy direct access to purchased items.
- Providing accurate inventory status: Customers can research products online and see which items are in stock without entering the store.
Analyzing Foot Traffic through People Counters
Customer traffic is critical to understanding sales opportunities for stores, and smart technology such as the Ombori People Counter can help retailers increase revenue by monitoring foot traffic and adjusting sales operations accordingly. A people counter is an electronic device that counts customers as they enter or leave a location without any human intervention.
Using strategically placed cameras or sensors, a people counter tracks every visitor entering and leaving a site. As each customer passes the device, a real-time count is tracked in a database.
Here are some ways people counters can help businesses streamline sales operations:
- Secure proper staffing: By monitoring occupancy levels, retailers can optimize staffing. When traffic is high, managers can assign staff to assist with checkout and prevent long customer wait times; as traffic subsides, they can reassign staff to other sales-related tasks.
- Increase conversion rates: Retailers can derive a more accurate conversion rate – the percentage of visitors who make purchases – by cross-analyzing foot traffic with checkout data.
- Monitor occupancy levels: Retailers receive real-time occupancy data that can help them comply with social distancing guidelines and other restrictions. As it approaches maximum occupancy, the retailer can limit entry.
- Enhance product placement: Understanding where and how people move can help stores tailor product placement to ensure customer engagement.
Empowering Customers through Self-Checkout
Top retailers understand the importance of self-checkout technology. Customers hate waiting in lines, and self-checkout solutions such as those offered by Ombori allow them to take control of their exit strategy. Self-checkout technology provides customers a way to complete their transactions without needing a cashier.
Here’s how self-checkout works:
- Greeting: The interaction between a self-checkout device and the customer begins with a greeting. The machine then prompts the customer to begin by pressing a touchscreen button.
Scanning and bagging: The interaction proceeds with the customer scanning items using barcodes. When a barcode isn’t available, the customer might have to weigh the item and select it from touchscreen options. They’re then prompted to place the item in a bag. If an error occurs, they are notified via the touchscreen.
- Paying: The customer completes the transaction by selecting a payment method and removing the items from the bagging area.
Typically, at least one supervising sales associate is on standby to authorize the sale of age-restricted products and provide additional customer service.
Self-checkout can benefit sales operations in various ways:
- Reducing staff needed: Because one staff person can monitor multiple self-checkout devices, the need for additional personnel decreases.
- Empowering customers: Self-checkout allows customers to control the process. In addition to expediting checkout, it can prevent customer frustration by reducing wait times.
- Preventing lost sales: Customers are less likely to leave without purchasing when they don’t have to wait in line. Self-checkout can also mitigate lost revenue caused by mishandling cash, fraud, and theft.
- Improving store layout and customer flow: Self-checkout devices occupy less space than traditional conveyor belts and can accommodate more customers.
Optimizing Customer Flow Via Queue Management
Another effective tool for streamlining sales operations is queue management. A queue is a line of people, and queue management systems, like those offered by Omobori, allow businesses to control lines by managing wait time and enhancing the customer experience. In the past, customers had to physically wait in line for service. Today, many businesses utilize virtual queues that allow people to wait in a virtual queue via a mobile app.
Here’s how it works:
- 1. Join a queue: Customers join a queue online, via a self-service kiosk, or by scanning a QR code at the location. They then receive a confirmation on their mobile device or via a printed ticket.
- 2. Receive notification: When it’s their turn to move to the head of the queue, customers receive a notification prompting them to go to the location.
- 3. Arrive: Customers check-in using their paper ticket or via a QR code on their mobile device. This automatically updates the real-time queue data and triggers notifications to other waiting customers.
The use of notifications allows customers to do other things while they wait, and the data pulled from queue management systems enable more efficient sales operations.
Businesses can save costs and increase revenue through queue management in several ways:
- Ease of use: Because queue management technology is intuitive and easy to use – all a customer needs is a browser; it appeals to multiple generations.
- Greater efficiency: The ability to track and monitor lines allows retailers to identify inefficiencies and avoid lost revenue. Unlike physical lines, virtual queueing provides customers with regular updates on their status, reducing the likelihood they’ll leave before being served.
- Improved customer satisfaction: By allowing customers to wait where they want, businesses can reduce frustration. Likewise, customers can avoid having to wait outside during inclement weather. Both features lead to greater customer satisfaction, which translates into increased loyalty.
- Increased transparency: One of the most common complaints about traditional queues is the lack of transparency. With virtual queueing, customers can view their position in line and expected wait time at any time, thus reinforcing their confidence in the retailer.
Data Helps with the Bigger Picture
The collection of data through technology can help businesses reduce costs and increase profits. Sadly, most companies fail to make use of such data. According to research company Forrester, the average business analyzes only 12% of the data it collects, which means 88% of it goes untapped. What if retailers analyzed all of it? Ombori smart technology allows them to do so.
Technology is a game-changer in the world of sales. Retailers that use technologies such as BOPIS, people counters, self-checkout, and queue management experience more streamlined sales operations and are more competitive. As the digital age advances, businesses need to recognize the power of smart technology to cut expenses and increase profits.
Björn is Chief Experience Officer of Ombori Grid. He spent the early part of his career in the music business before moving into retail design and video production. His passion is for creating unique and memorable retail experiences that excite and delight customers. He spent 6 years at Visual Art in Stockholm before joining Ombori in 2018.