North American stores are facing two major problems- a chronic shortage of associates and a worrying rise in abusive customers. This can become a vicious cycle, with unpleasant customers driving even more associates to quit.
It’s important to act before this happens. Our mission is to improve in-store communication so that associates can share information and respond to threats more efficiently. In our last blog, we described how our headsets can fulfill this role on the sales floor. Now it’s time to talk about checkouts.
Checkouts are often separate from the rest of the store, meaning that help can take a long time to arrive. Our checkout keypads solve this problem by allowing immediate two-way communication between checkout associates and the rest of the team. Here’s how they work, and how they can make your checkouts faster and safer.
The Great Resignation is far from over
The so-called “Great Resignation” saw 50 million workers quitting their jobs in 2022, including hundreds of thousands in the retail sector. Retail vacancies peaked at over a million in May 2022, and were still above 800,000 a year later.
These shortages put a lot of pressure on remaining associates. 38% consider labor shortages to be their biggest challenge, and 75% are juggling multiple roles as a result of understaffing.
To make matters worse, these associates are facing increasing levels of hostility from customers. 80% of retailers have reported a rise in customer aggression, and a third of stores experienced a violent incident between October 2022 and March 2023. As the current quit rate of 3.3% shows, these incidents may be the last straw for overworked associates.
Checkout associates are uniquely vulnerable
These problems affect everyone, but checkout associates are especially at risk. They are often isolated from the rest of the team, making it difficult to call for support. If an associate runs out of change or needs a new till roll, they may have no choice but to leave their post in search of help.
These delays can have a serious impact on the customer experience. As well as being a flashpoint for customer abuse, checkout delays are a surefire way to lose business. Two thirds of customers consider checkout delays a major frustration, and many will abandon their purchase after only a few minutes of queuing.
In order to keep associates safe and customers happy, you need to bridge the gap between the checkouts and the sales floor. Our keypads do just that, providing three main benefits along the way.
1. Reduce checkout delays
Checkout associates are often forced to leave the checkout area in search of help, holding up the queue and fuelling customer frustration. Our keypads provide a simple solution:
- Keypads link checkouts to the floor team via headsets. Checkout associates can call for help at the press of a button, then continue to serve while they wait for assistance.
- Preset help buttons let checkout associates specify the nature of their problem. Floor associates can pick up change or till rolls on their way to the checkout, rather than going there first to ask what is needed.
- If a problem is more complicated, checkout associates can use the two way microphone to give a more detailed explanation.
2. Improve checkout safety
Without an immediate way to raise the alarm, checkout associates can find themselves stuck with an abusive customer. This is another area in which keypads can help:
- An alarm button can be configured to send an automated alert to the security team. This is more subtle than a PA announcement, reducing the risk of inflaming an already dangerous situation.
- If an associate is unable to speak, they can simply turn on the two way microphone. This will allow the security team to hear what is happening and respond appropriately.
3. Analyze checkout data
Keypads don’t just benefit checkout associates. They also provide valuable insight into the workings of your business. Head Office can track keypad data through our portal, and this information can be used to improve the in-store experience:
- If associates keep running out of change or till rolls, you can make sure that these are replenished in advance.
- If queues regularly become unmanageable at a certain time, you can preempt this by opening an extra checkout.
This is just one element of the VoCoVo ecosystem. By combining keypads, headsets and call points, you can create a store that is safe and efficient for customers and associates alike. Talk to our team to find out more.