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Holiday retail: How stores can implement line busting

 Ingenico iSMP4
Ingenico iSMP4

The holiday season is definitely the most competitive time for retailers. Typically, businesses try to compete with sales, and obviously that works. But have you considered that the time it takes to pay for items is one area in which merchants can gain an advantage?

Line-busting involves strategically placing sales staff throughout the store and equipping them with mobile POS devices capable of completing EMV, magstripe and near-field communication (NFC) transactions. In order to do this, retailers need an easy way to transform fixed POS stations into tightly integrated payment environments which use mPOS systems capable of accepting all forms of payments and sending data to processors.

Factors that increase wait times
According to a survey from TimeTrade, the average consumer won’t wait more than 10 minutes to pay for items. In other words, if retailers take longer than 10 minutes to check out customers, they’ll lose sales and shoppers will go to another merchant that offers the same products – or they’ll just quickly buy those items online from a different business.

Technology is usually at the heart of long wait times – legacy desktop POS systems being a classic example. However, even new innovations can prevent retailers from expediting checkout. According to Hospitality Technology, processing EMV transactions can take anywhere between 15 seconds to 2 minutes. That means in a worst case scenario, it would take 10 minutes to check out 5-10 customers – and the 11th, 12th or 13th shoppers in line might leave for another store. 

It’s important to consider that many customers will use their EMV cards this holiday season. Smart Card Alliance noted that, as of last year, the U.S. had issued approximately 200 million EMV chip-based payment cards. Aside from the technology itself, some retailers are worried EMV cards may confuse both customers and clerks. In an interview with the Omaha World-Herald, Target spokeswoman Molly Snyder said that confused customers may hesitate when deciding between swiping or dipping their cards, thereby exacerbating wait times. 

How integrated payments establish line-busting
Integrated payment solutions enable line-busting by making it easy for retailers to roll out mPOS devices that reduce system downtime. A semi-integrated payments solution that is both processor and hardware agnostic fosters the flexibility necessary to support merchants looking for a mobile option to cover high volume sales events – regardless of their payment processing provider. Merchants can implement a solution that integrates both fixed and mobile devices to prevent line abandonment and ensure that every prospective sale is converted.

In addition, strategically placing staff throughout stores is a must. Managers must equip sales personnel with mPOS devices that enable them to check out customers the minute they know what they want to buy. This eliminates the need for store visitors to wait in line entirely. 

Implementing the right technology (with the right partner) provides the foundations on which retailers can build an effective line-busting process.


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