The ‘Black Friday’ sales period is almost upon us, with TV advertising, internet browser pop-ups, and reviews to tell us which products are worth waiting for. Although largely thought of as an online phenomenon, 2016 figures from the US show that 101.7 million people braved the crowds to shop in physical retail stores over the Black Friday weekend. It’s going to get busy out there!
One way to maximise profits and prevent losses is to optimise your store’s layout (for example, installing retractable belt barriers and call forwarding systems). This keeps things running smoothly and improves the customer experience.
Find out five reasons a better layout, queue management and crowd control can help you increase efficiency and profitability in a retail environment.
1) Serve more shoppers per hour
Although stores are likely to be busy, it’s also true that online shopping is on the rise because of the convenience it offers. Physical shops still have a role to play, whether it’s the chance to browse, try on multiple items or use a ‘click and collect’ service for online purchases – not to mention handling returns after Black Friday buyer’s remorse!
Offline shops have to raise their game to compete, but it’s amazing how much difference better organisation can make. Our EQ™ electronic call forward system removes confusion about where to go (and when) by indicating the next available till.
This small change has helped our retail clients reduce waiting times by up to 30% and serve up to 25% more customers per hour.
2) Shorten queues to prevent ‘walkaways’
Customers don’t like to be kept waiting. If they see long or slow-moving queues, they’re likely to give up. Keeping lines short is essential to your success.
EQ™ technology is one way to keep things moving, but another is to make your layout adaptable. Using a retractable belt barrier with a wall mount means you can simply retract the webbing line when it’s not in use.
Setting up your queueing area with space to accommodate large numbers can get you ready for Black Friday crowds. However, if volumes fluctuate – for example during the lunchtime lull – then customers could get frustrated walking through a long layout. ShortcutQ is an innovative way to change your layout, featuring gates you can open to fast-track customers through the queueing area. (Like our popular retractable belt barrier system TensabarrierⓇ, it’s designed to avoid the potential for injury to visitors during busy periods. ShortcutQ’s manual gates retract slowly when pushed, instead of swinging backwards.)
3) Free up staff with a call forwarding system
The right queue management solutions mean you don’t have to divert staff to look after the queue. Your customers will be happier and more efficiency will drive profits.
Automation could help your team focus on other, higher-priority tasks. EQ Auto Call Forward is an intelligent system that uses cameras and sensors to detect when to call the next customer. By almost eradicating ‘walkaways’, it can increase sales by up to 33%. It’s also 51% faster than a traditional manual system where staff operate the call forward.
Online and media advertising aren’t the only ways to promote a product. Instead, raise your revenues with in-stores incentives and by encouraging impulse buys.
There are lots of ways to do this, from merchandising bowls in the queue area to scannable QR codes on stanchion heads. We used both of these methods to modernise queuing for a well-known coffee retailer; our 12-week trial saw the brand achieving a 400% rise in premium mug sales and a 25% increase in sales of coffee by the pound. The QR codes also encouraged sign-ups to the company’s loyalty programme.
It’s harder than it used to be to attract consumers’ attention, with smartphones and plenty of other media competing for their time. One remedy is InQ-tv®, an in-queue TV system that plays media messages to waiting customers. It both attracts attention and keeps shoppers entertained, while a shortened perception of queueing time prevents abandoned purchases.
Finally, don’t forget the power of signage and banners (like our retractable belt barrier systems, as well as holders and panels that can be attached to existing queue barriers). Queuing means you have a ‘captive audience’, so this is a great time to get their attention.
5) Health & Safety for retail
The costs of personal injury cases and ‘no win, no fee’ claims are a sad fact of life for many businesses. Another way to protect your profits is to avoid losing them to legal action.
Busy periods like Black Friday mean taking Health & Safety more seriously than ever. Get organised with floor plans and routes that direct shoppers away from obstacles. React quickly to issues like spills and repairs. Black Friday will mean all hands on deck for your staff, but trips and falls could cost you.
Equally, choose robust solutions that help keep customers safe. An example is the low leading edge on the base of our Tensabarrier retractable barrier system. It creates less of a trip hazard for people with limited mobility or visual impairment, as well as enthusiastic bargain hunters moving at speed. It’s also designed to avoid accidents if the webbing is accidentally detached; the webbing cassette will drop slowly to the floor instead of potentially hitting passers-by.
The busy Black Friday weekend can be as challenging as it is potentially profitable. (After bad publicity from in-store fights, the period has sometimes been referred to as ‘Black Eye-Day’.) Nonetheless, it is possible to get organised and keep your customers happy. If you’re looking for new ideas about how to make your retail space safer, more efficient and more profitable, get in touch. Our approach is to design bespoke layouts based on individual needs.
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