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Your point-of-sale conversion rate represents the number of paying customers you have from all the people who visit the store or website. It’s not enough to get people to walk in the door or choose your site from a list of search engine results. Those actions are great starts, but they don’t automatically lead to purchases.

Here are some actionable strategies that can provide significant, measurable changes in your point-of-sale conversion rates.

Launch a Virtual Waiting Room

Before COVID-19 disrupted society, people who saw a line out the door to enter a business probably concluded that the place was popular and worth the wait. Now, many retailers enforce occupancy limits to keep people as safe as possible during a global pandemic. That means consumers see people lining up for a different reason.  Many businesses, including grocery stores, introduced an app-based virtual waiting room. It let people see how crowded the store was and determine estimated waiting times.

Virtual waiting rooms apply to websites, too. That’s particularly true since they can help prevent site crashes. Several years ago, scooter retailer Micro Kickboard lost an estimated $15,000 in sales after its site went down for about an hour. The site functioned slowly after coming back. The e-commerce company created a virtual waiting room to prevent similar future difficulties. When used during a Black Friday event, 95% of people waited to buy things rather than leaving the site.

Virtual waiting rooms for stores and sites set customer expectations. If a person knows they only need to wait 10 minutes before shopping, they’re more likely to buy than give up. Seeing the approximate waiting times also gives people the freedom to plan their days. If a person has a 15-minute wait for a grocery store slot, for example, they might use that time to deposit money at the bank across the street.

Give the Impression of Scarcity

People don’t want to experience the disappointment of out-of-stock items. You can tap into that reality and use it to improve your point-of-sale conversion rates. The key is to convince consumers that they should act fast to avoid missing out.

Etsy uses this to tell site visitors how many other shoppers added certain items to their baskets or clarify that a product is a one-of-a-kind item. Suppose a person sees that 20 other people also showed interest in a piece of vintage clothing. Someone who really wants it will pay attention to that demand and buy it before other interested persons can.

Try a version of this approach in a store by keeping shelves partially empty on purpose. Then, people conclude that other shoppers purchased the merchandise earlier. In that case, they need to buy promptly before the product sells out. One possibility is to assign store team members to monitor the shelves used for in-demand items. Try to keep one or two products stocked there at any time, but no more.

Offer Appealing Payment Plans

Another strategic way to boost conversion rates is to allow people to buy items and pay for them later. The traditional way to do that was to enable credit card payments. However, assuming that people have credit cards is an outdated viewpoint. Statistics show that a mere 1 in 3 millennials is a credit card owner Plus, many people limit credit card usage because to avoid debt. However, payment plans offer attractive alternatives.

They let people spread their payments across months to make the total amounts more manageable. Most providers give shoppers their approval decisions on the spot. Additionally, some services that offer such plans let consumers choose the breakdown of payments versus the number of months. Paying more each month cuts the timeframe of a person’s obligations.

Advertising a payment alternative in a store or online encourages people to buy immediately. Instead of waiting months to save the money for a big-ticket item or something that’s simply not in the budget, they can purchase it now.

Set Expectations With Accurate Product Information

Online shopping offers obvious conveniences. However, it poses challenges for people trying to evaluate products before buying them. For example, a person shopping online can’t touch a sweater to check its softness or get a sample before splurging on gourmet fudge. If a person has doubts about a product, those uncertainties could stand in the way of their purchases. You can remove that friction by making it as easy as possible for people to get the information they need.

Start by providing richly detailed product descriptions. Segmenting the content under headers such as Primary Features, Product Care, Warranty Information and Suggested Accessories can help shoppers find the information they want and need. Consider showing the product from multiple angles or including video content, too. Some business owners make the mistake of only including manufacturer descriptions. However, that content often falls short.

Another common practice is to encourage past customers to rate how true-to-size the product was, if applicable. Compiling those statistics could help people feel more confident about buying now instead of delaying their transactions. Similarly, letting shoppers post reviews and pictures of their purchases helps people get informed and realize that online shopping doesn’t always leave consumers in the dark until their products arrive.

Enable Digital Payment Options

People can also hesitate to buy if they perceive that transactions will be too difficult, slow or otherwise full of hassles. Consider enabling ways for people to pay digitally and through contact-free means. Doing that helps them perceive that shopping with you will be a quick and simple process. If shoppers think otherwise, they may decide not to purchase.

Contactless payments boomed during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the interest in using them seems here to stay. Mastercard conducted a worldwide survey to learn about people’s feelings concerning contact-free payments. The results showed that nearly 7 in 10 respondents planned to permanently change to digital payment methods. Relatedly, almost half of those polled intended to use cashless often, even once the pandemic ends.

Exploring digital payment options now could help you get on board with the trend while simultaneously improving conversions. Many people prefer to launch payment apps when shopping in a store instead of fumbling in their wallets for cards and cash.. Then, online purchases pose the opportunity for people to use stored cards. That way, they can finish their transactions in fewer clicks.

Recognize the Link Between Employees and Conversion Rates

Many small businesses initially overlook the connection between employees and higher sales. However, workers can make the difference between sales increases and transactions that never happen. For example, if in-store staff members directly engage consumers and address their questions, those shoppers are more likely to feel ready to buy than if employees never speak to them.

Brands with an online presence have also recently launched consultation services. For example, people who use the Ulta Beauty website to buy cosmetics can arrange virtual evaluations from experts. It’s easy to envision how such input could make it easier for a person to settle on the right shade of foundation or the best product to tame their unruly curls.

Investigate what your brand could improve upon concerning customer engagement. When shoppers have direct communications with workers, there’s a higher chance that they’ll purchase things instead of leaving the store or website without confirming those all-important transactions.

Show Shoppers That You Prioritize Safety

The COVID-19 pandemic may have forever changed how and why people shop. Analysts have already noticed numerous shifts regarding people’s preferred shopping methods and how likely they are to buy non-essential items, for example. Safety is something that many consumers will likely keep insisting that retailers take seriously, even after the pandemic is only an unpleasant memory.

The results of an April 2020 survey showed that more than three-quarters of respondents would be more cautious about health, safety and cleanliness in the post-pandemic world. Additionally, 62% of those polled would switch to brands that focused on product safety.

People who come to physical stores and believe they’re safe will want to browse and linger — both activities that could drive conversions. Similarly, consider the opinions held if consumers arrive at your website and see a secure shopping portal and trust badges in the footer or on the checkout page.  Those features reinforce that your company created a website with safety in mind.

Start Reducing Purchasing Barriers Today

Numerous factors can make people visit your store or site without buying merchandise. However, these tips will help you reduce them and get people in the mood to purchase. Consider implementing them soon and recording metrics before and during your efforts to change. Then, you can tie those strategies to desirable results, helping you stay motivated to continue.