July 09, 2019
When I was studying at university, I went from working in a small restaurant to a large DIY store where the customer flow was huge. Nothing about their checkout system worked the way it was supposed to. I knew before my shift that there would be problems and that I would have to deal with annoyed and angry customers. For that reason, writing about store staff issues is particularly fun for me, as I have much firsthand experience.
When we held interviews with store staff, I recognized the bottlenecks the employee encountered. Many of the problems we identified were also dysfunctions from the consumer perspective. Store staff and consumers alike find checkout queues and cluttered stores annoying. Both could benefit from digitizing components of the physical store for a more overall connected experience. The staff is an extension of the brand, to create a seamless experience for the customer, it is crucial to pay attention to staff needs, and to take these considerations into account.
Stocktaking is time-consuming and many mistakes are made
Store staff often spend a significant amount of time stocktaking. For some stores, this happens every month, for others, every six months. “I would prefer to avoid stocktaking. It’s monotonous and takes a long time.”
The stock level on the store's website can be shown to the consumer, but sometimes it does not tally with the actual stock in the physical stores. This can be frustrating for the consumer when they visit a brand’s online store and then show up to pay for the item in person.
Have to answer the same questions over and over again
Store staff want to advise the customers to create a valuable in-store experience. However, employees often felt as though their attention had to be diverted to other in-store matters. They usually have to answer the same questions: “Where do you have such and such?” The staff are often asked about product inventory or product locations. The consumers also expect the staff to have the time and knowledge to provide them with inspiration and advice if needed, but store staff do not always have time to do this.
Disabling anti-theft devices takes a long time
Anti-theft devices on products in physical stores become time-consuming at checkout as the has to spend time disabling the anti-theft devices. Employees want to work effectively to cut down on checkout lines and give the customers an excellent in-store experience.
“It's a hassle when the products are fitted with anti-theft devices; it takes a long time to remove the alarm.”
Long lines and checkout systems that quit on you
The customers who visit a physical store want a checkout where paying is quick. In some cases, the POS system deficiencies are the culprit to long checkout lines. “The systems crash when there is a lot to do.”
There are many facets of the physical store beyond opening hours. One major reason consumers choose to visit the physical store is to get instant help from the staff. Employees are occupied with completing repetitive tasks that keep them off the floor where they can help customers. We cannot spin the wheel without a functioning hub, which makes it essential to think about the people who maintain the stores to give consumers a pleasant experience.
About Future of Retail Series
For a four-week process, we met with consumers and retail staff, both in a deep interview format and informally out on the town, to try to survey which shopping experience needs are currently not being met. With the help of these insights, we have been able to focus on some specific areas. After that, we performed a comprehensive trend monitoring and business intelligence to better understand this highly innovative retail landscape. The study aimed to identify new opportunities for our customers to create the shopping experiences of the future.