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How to Reduce Store Queues and Manage Crowds this Holiday Season

Posted by Emily Fanning on Nov 11, 2019
Emily Fanning

A number of consumers will inevitably opt to shop online this holiday season, citing convenience and an aversion to crowds as two of the driving reasons. Yet 72% still plan to do their holiday gift buying in stores: aka, it’s time to start getting your space in shape and plans in place!

An often neglected part of such is a system for controlling crowds and keeping the line moving, without actually reducing the amount of foot traffic or in-store transactions; because after all, you’d rather be busy than bored. So here are six tips for reducing wait times and keeping crowds under control in your store this season.

Training is everything

We’ve all been there: you’re in line behind a person whose purchase seems to have thrown the sales associate for a loop. They’re either struggling to figure out a solution on their own, or waiting for assistance from another busy employee—taking attention away from any customers they may be assisting as well. Avoid watching this scenario play out in your store by investing time into hands-on training. Give new employees a test before they even ring a sale, and throw in some tricky situations that they should be prepared to address! Even if your point of sale is very user-friendly and easy to pick up from a technical standpoint, there will always be customer and product questions and issues that arise, and you should have a guidebook for how to answer and handle quickly.

Go mobile

Blog-Manage-Crowds-Holiday-MobileBusy season or not, 76% of this survey’s respondents agree that mobile technology helps provide a faster shopping experience, and they’ve all come to expect this. A mobile POS allows sales associates to reference inventory and prices alongside customers as they shop, instead of forcing them to hunt down a sales associate who then has to search the stockroom, escape to the back office, or interrupt the checkout line at the cashwrap to check.

Springboard Retail’s next generation POS has a mobile focus, and a camera-based barcode scanner means no more cumbersome pairing and charging of multiple bluetooth scanners. Retailers can use their CloverGo device from anywhere in the store—just add some Velcro to the back of your iPads and you’ll be armed with your store’s real-time inventory and data, as well as be able to check out customers on the go. This will help to reduce long lines and crowds at the cashwrap.

Employ flexible technology

Your POS should be flexible enough to let sales associates quickly and seamlessly open an additional register anywhere in the store. Line just went from one person to eight? In minutes a sales associate should be able to spin up a new POS on their iPad and connected payment device (like the CloverGo!). Our next generation point of sale will couple with our mobile solution, including the camera-based barcode scanner, to check out customers on the go, minimizing the long line and reducing wait times.

To strengthen your operations this busy holiday season, Springboard Retail is offering a line buster: We’ll provide you with our next generation POS as a free additional station on any existing iPads you have!

Current customers fill out this form to inquire about our beta program.

A quicker way to collect data

As your setup allows, invest in hardware that can rotate to front-facing, or mount your iPads to a wall so that customers are able to fill in personal information themselves. Asking them to spell and repeat their name (no, F as in Frank not Sally), email address (yes, I did say aol dot com), and any other data you collect in your CRM can tack on precious minutes, so cut the time in half by asking customers to type everything in while you work on wrapping up their purchases.

Secure a backup internet source

An internet outage during the busy season can feel like the apocalypse to a retailer, but it doesn’t have to. Make sure you have a backup plan and technology in place, because resorting to hand tickets isn’t just going to annoy customers; it will prompt those who don’t want a paper trail of their credit card and personal information to give up and leave. Fortunately, you have lots of options: a redundant network, hotspot, or 4G LTE wireless network.

While you may (hopefully!) never experience such an outage, the peace of mind you'll get from securing a reliable backup connection will be priceless. Just remember to test these ahead of time too!

Zone it and own it

As you plan your holiday staffing schedules, divide your store into zones: checkout/cashwrap, fitting room, front entrance, stock room/back office, and multiple product zones depending on how large your store is. Giving each employee their own zone for the day will reduce chaos and keep crowds moving; customers won’t be mindlessly searching for assistance in finding a product, getting into a locked dressing room, or looking for another size.

But remember, equipping every floor associate with a mobile POS means they’re able to play out of position when necessary, looking up inventory from the fitting room, or checking out a customer who is rushing in and out for something quick.

Want to make things even easier for busy holiday shoppers?

Find out how in this upcoming webinar all about buy online, pick up in stores!

Learn More!

Topics: Retail Tips & Techniques