It’s a well-known fact that consumers tend to frequent more than one store for their groceries and household necessities. Gaining customer loyalty can be a hard-earned feat. And, with the increase in household spending on groceries in 2021, FMI’s U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends 2021 study reports that 41% of grocery shoppers indicated they intend to prepare more meals at home going forward than they did before the onset of the pandemic. While people are beginning to eat out again, evidence points to the eat-at-home trend continuing with estimates showing that the grocery shopping numbers are expected to still be stronger than food service for quite some time.
This is all good news for grocers, but the desire for more at-home eating and greater convenience for consumers has also created some challenges for the grocery business. Staffing challenges are rampant, which can lead to lost sales or even business migrating online, even for brick-and-mortar stores that offer effortless delivery or pick-up options. Customers want to get what they want when they want it with ease. Now more than ever, the importance of strong loyalty programs and tools to engage and empower customers plays a critical role in keeping customers happy. Store personnel needs to be available when customers need support and service. The key may be incorporating automation.
But implementing technology to elevate the customer experience can be difficult. It’s still not uncommon for retailers to use multiple automation platforms—none of which communicate with one another—to track products and customer activity. In today’s competitive retail landscape, wherein staff shortages can be common, and customers can pick and choose where and how they want to shop, smart retailers understand that a well-thought-out POS platform is no longer “nice-to-have,” but rather a “must-have.” An efficient, coordinated POS system can play a key role in ensuring customers remain loyal while enjoying a straightforward shopping experience.
So what does a seamless customer experience look like? To start, a seamless automation tool is one in which all features and modules of a program are synchronized to work together. The result is an experience in which customers can go to one store and participate in a loyalty program, knowing that everything they do in that store is tracked and managed in one place. “Whether they are shopping online or in-store or starting their order online and finishing it in-store, all of their retail interactions are tied together,” explains Pete Catoe, CEO and President of ECRS® (ecrs.com), whose CATAPULT® Retail POS connects all critical retail touchpoints in real-time.
Here are 5 key ways a unified POS system such as ECRS’s CATAPULT system can provide next-level service to retailers and in doing so help retailers empower their shoppers.
- Loyalty Points. Earning loyalty points gamifies the customer experience, which can be a key tool to inspire customer engagement, but all too often these programs lack transparency, resulting in lackluster engagement. Transparency is key. “If a customer understands how many points they can earn or that they can earn on certain dates or by joining certain groups, they can gain confidence in seeing their point levels rise on their receipt or online. It’s a lot like credit card air miles” explains Pete Catoe. With a unified POS system, customers can track points online and even plan their shopping around earning opportunities, while retailers can target point earnings that are unique to the shopper. Veterans or seniors, for instance, could earn extra points on certain days. You can also clearly distinguish the items on which customers can and cannot earn points.
- LoyaltyBot®. To truly get the most out of a loyalty program, LoyaltyBot helps to customize the consumer experience. LoyaltyBot works with a campaign manager to market to customers regarding point accruals and trigger points on dynamic promotions. It allows customers to garner extra points on specific purchases. “Ultimately, it’s a robot that you can set to run campaigns at any time of day or night without waiting overnight. It does this in conjunction with tracking customer spending habits, to help retailers create customer groups based on buying habits and whether they are pet lovers, wine, coffee, or chocolate lovers.” LoyaltyBot also helps to set up and track electronic ePunch™ Cards and eCoupon incentives to customers.
- WebCart™. The main functionality of WebCart allows customers to shop online. Customers can log in to WebCart and have full access to their points, coupons, ePunch Cards, and everything they have by way of retail rewards. “It has the ability to grant customers autonomous access to their accounts and a more transparent look as to how they shop in your store and how you reward them for doing so. They can check their profile online as well as shop just as they do in-store,” explains Pete Catoe.
- Made-To-Order (MTO). This function allows independent customization of different store offerings. It puts the power of customization in the hands of customers, ordering anything from pizza to sandwiches, coffee to smoothies. Customers can earn points for specifically using Made-To-Order products that qualify. MTO orders can be placed online, pre-ordered, or placed with a traditional cashier or deli employee, or in-store at a kiosk.
- Flex Market® and AutoScale™. In a changing retail environment these features support both retailers and customers, as they can help offset staff shortages by putting more shopping power in the hands of customers. The Flex Market, for instance, allows customers to check their accounts and place orders in-store. They can order a Made-To-Order sandwich at the kiosk to avoid the deli line, and then continue shopping until the sandwich is ready. “When customers are standing in line, they’re not shopping,” says Pete Catoe. “Flex Market puts the power of customization and ordering online at the customer’s fingertips.” When their food is ready, they can do self-checkout and pay for their sandwich and groceries at the kiosk. If something needs to be weighed, no problem. The AutoScale allows customers to weigh and print a barcode for the weighted items, like produce. The AutoScale is a completely seamless pricing experience, as it runs the same CATAPULT software as the POS, so your store’s weekly email flyers automatically match the price your customers see on the deli scale.
With ECRS’ CATAPULT, you can increase the productivity, speed, and quality of the customer experience. Choose from a variety of setups, like traditional POS and Self-Checkout lanes, Made-to-Order kiosks, and more. Contact us today to escape your POS integration nightmare and transform your business!