Amid the pandemic, retailers have learned the importance of utilizing technology to better support their customers. Virtual ordering capabilities and other alternatives to shopping in-store promote safety in the surrounding communities. However, there are also ways to leverage your technology stack to help slow the spread of unwanted germs from those who choose to visit the store.
Whether you are an IT guru or a retailer just dipping your toes in technology, here are five simple ways you can leverage your retail technology during COVID-19.
1) Set Item Quantity Limits
When difficulties arise, it is common for customers to over-buy and stock up on essential items. However, with the right technology, retailers can maintain control of their inventory, prevent shortages, and discourage customers from hoarding these high-demand products.
- Quantity multipliers can be an asset to managing your store’s inventory. This type of function requires you to set specific values of which a product cannot exceed. Once this value is set within your inventory records, it will determine the maximum number of items that can be sold in a single transaction.
- A Vendor Group is a set of items that are grouped together when building a quantity limit. The Vendor Group is assigned using two letters. For example, if you were wanting to restrict the amount of Paper Towels sold in a single transaction, you would use the letters PT, and set all items in your store that are paper towels to use these same two letters.
2) Limit Payment Device Interaction
Limiting physical customer-device interaction is crucial to reducing the spread of germs. There are several functions retailers can utilize to minimize the number of times your customers are required to touch the payment device during a transaction.
Disable Common Device Prompts
- Disable Signature Capture: Retailers processing EMV (chip) card payments can disable the signature requirement for all transactions. Alternatively, retailers can set a signature capture threshold in which a signature would only be required with a purchase above a certain price.
- Disable Amount Approval: Check your point of sale system’s settings to disable the amount approval prompt.
- Disable Cash Back Option: Disabling the cash back option will allow customers to skip having to select “No” for those who do not wish to get cash back.
Enable Speed Tendering
To eliminate another touchpoint, retailers can enable a Speed Tendering feature. If the customer is using a card that can be identified through BIN lookup, Speed Tendering is an excellent alternative to requiring them to select the card type before completing the transaction.
3) Leverage e-Commerce
While some stores have closed their doors because of the Coronavirus, others are deploying an e-commerce solution and are now able to support their customers anytime, anywhere. With an emphasis on click-and-collect, curbside pickup, and other virtual shopping solutions, developing an online store presence is crucial to staying ahead.
- Around-the-Clock Availability: One of the most beneficial aspects of e-Commerce is around-the-clock availability. Retailers can now generate sales regardless of physical store hours. This allows customers to place orders online and schedule pickups on their own time.
- Universal Product Database: With an integrated product database and inventory solution, retailers can advertise accurate product information and on-hand inventory counts at all times, reducing the likelihood of unwanted substitutions and customer friction points.
- Unified Transaction Logic™: With technology like CATAPULT’s Unified Transaction Logic, all critical areas of a retail operation are connected and updated in real time: inventory & supply chain, reporting & analytics, loyalty, pos, payments, and e-commerce all work in unison. This means customers have a seamless shopping experience no matter how they choose to shop.
- With a line-busting mobile app solution, customers can scan items as they shop in the store and pay before walking out the door, without waiting in line.
- With a Click-and-Collect solution, customers can order online and pickup at the store. This requires your employees to navigate through the store and pick orders for them. To assist with this picking process, make sure to leverage your pos system’s order picking application to make the picking process as smooth and efficient as possible. Allow employees to pick multiple orders at one time, scan items to a transaction as they are picked, and track all bags within the store regardless of item type (produce, frozen, etc.).
4) Pre-package prepared foods
Retailers can now take extra steps to prioritize their customer’s health and safety by pre-packaging prepared foods to prevent contamination. Pre-packaging keeps things like air, microorganisms, and toxins from contaminating the food. Keeping foods from sitting out in the open reduces the likelihood that they would be exposed to harmful bacteria.
This added measure not only benefits customers from a safety perspective, but also from a convenience perspective. Pre-packaging allows customers to grab-and-go with ease, reducing time they would be waiting in line at the deli and overall time in the store.
Using technology like AutoScale by ECRS allows store associates to quickly weigh and label prepared foods, providing a smooth, streamlined solution that’s fast and accurate, every time.
5) Limit Returns for Stockpilers
Many retailers have struggled with how to handle returns. Retail leaders have discouraged hoarding, reminding customers that supply chains will continue to operate and that there will be plenty for everyone. Encouraging shoppers to only buy what they need for the next two weeks has become the rule of thumb.
But what about those who bought in bulk early and now want to make a large return? This question has led large retailers, like Costco, to limit returns on certain items. Many believe this to be a good decision for two important reasons:
- it discourages hoarding, and
- it reduces the risk of unsanitary items being reintroduced to store shelves.
There are a few ways retailers can control returns and be proactive against hoarders:
- Post In-Store Notices: Retailers who choose to set restrictions on returns should place notices around the store so that the return policy is clearly stated. This will help limit confusion around the new restrictions. Notices should be placed on the shelves of the products that cannot be returned, and at the register.
- Returns to Gift Card Only: If you choose to accept returns, you can limit them to store credit or gift cards, which reduces sales loss and incentivized shoppers to return.
- Emphasis on Tracking and Active Management: If you choose to accept returns, it is important to track them. Tracking store returns allows you to keep a close eye on what item, and how much of that item, is being returned. This data can help when restocking from the supplier and when adjusting your return policy to better fit your store’s needs.
There are many ways to deal with doomsday stockpilers and panic buyers. See how one Australian company chose to handle a massive return request.
The Bottom Line
Make sure your store is equipped with the right technology to support your business during this time. Are you worried your tech stack is more of a hinderance than an asset? Contact ECRS today to get the right technology and tech partner that are dedicated to your business success.