Delayed trains, rainy weather, badly made cups of tea and complaining in restaurants are just a few things Brits typically hate. Also high up on this list of their bugbears is queuing. While Britain is a nation world-renowned for its orderly queuing, we hate it, particularly compared to our European counterparts. And while some of us grin and bear it, the flippant shoppers among us are quick to bail.
In fact, lining up one behind the other annoys Brits so much that 7 out of 10 would walk away from a purchase if they would have to wait in a long queue. First Data found that over a third of SMEs (34%) have no effective strategy in place to deal with an influx of customers and growing queue lengths. These two insights alone tell us that the attitudes of small business owners need to change before sales are lost due to disgruntled, queuing, potential customers leaving their store or business.
In short – it’s 2016 and we are living in a world where tech is increasingly making our personal lives easier. Therefore, my question to those SME owners with no strategy in place to deal with busy business hours is: Why are you failing to adopt tech that will make your working life easier?
It’s clear from our research that queues are a persistent problem for small businesses as 64% of decision makers acknowledge that a long queue could deter potential customers. So the problem for many SMEs isn’t detecting what the problem is – it’s knowing how to deal with it. We know that almost half of retailers (49%) believe the answer to dealing with an influx of customers is to hire more bodies to throw behind cash desks. Clearly, this is not a cost-effective or practical solution.
Mobile technology has advanced significantly and not only is it portable, the latest in EPOS technology helps the business owner get to the root cause of the problem through the use of business management software. For example, having access to business and customer data enables the SME owner to understand where stock is missing and staffing is lacking.
When shopping online, consumers are used to the streamlined ‘one click’ service. This seamless experience is not being offered throughout the high street. To compete, business owners should look to technology to streamline and personalise their customer interactions. With ample choice online and offline, consumers today are unsurprisingly less loyal and more flippant when purchasing goods or services. This can be difficult for small businesses who pride themselves on offering tailored, more personal one-to-one services for their customers. Small businesses are competing with similar size businesses, their neighbour on the high street as well as the online giants and in order to stand out from the rest and compete small businesses must be encouraged to refine their affairs by utilising technology to help them tackle queues and more ensuring they capture the custom of the time-poor high street consumer.
Utilising mobile tech brings enormous value on the operational side, but also in terms of the insight that can be gained through analysing customer data and behaviour patterns. It’s obvious that queues are a sign of a thriving business, however an off-putting in-store experience may prevent repeat business. If managed correctly, queues can quickly undo the hard work that has gone into attracting so many customers – so before they become a bugbear beat them with mobile tech.
By Raj Sond, General Manager at First Data