Fill your customers' heads with new ideas while they're waiting in line
Waiting in line can be stressful, especially for customers who have already spent time in your store and selected everything they need. At that point, the last thing they want is to be bored waiting to check out.
The checkout line is your final chance to make a lasting impression with your customers. Ideally, they'll move swiftly through the process and leave your store with full bags, satisfied by your staff's efficient customer service.
On the other hand, if your store is packed and all of your registers are busy, you're going to have lines. Sure, you're making money, but your customers may leave with an unfavorable impression and seek alternatives the next time they're looking for their favorite crafting supplies.
To remedy this, play to your customer base.
Engage and educate
Crafters can go to almost any big box store to pick up supplies, but they come to you because you're the expert. Engaging with and educating your customers allows you to capitalize on your expertise while turning a potentially bad experience into a favorable one.
Matthew Hudson, Ph.D., retail sales consultant and president of Rick Segel & Associates, says craft retailers can hit a homerun with customers in the checkout area.
"If you fill that area of the store with education, you keep your customers from becoming bored," he says. "Instead of staring at tchotchkes, gum and candy, they're looking at ideas for new and different crafting projects."
Expose your customers to different ideas and provide them with a takeaway sheet that lists the steps and supplies needed to complete the project. Appeal to your customers' visual sense by using photos, or use a video monitor to play a loop of a quick project demonstration.
"Go a step further," Hudson says. "Make videos of a project for each section of the store, then use a QR code the customer can scan that takes them straight to the video." QR codes are a quick and easy way to turn your customers' smartphones into advertising for your store, while entertaining them and keeping their minds off of standing in line.
Generating QR codes, or creating a YouTube channel for your store, is free. Videos don't have to be professionally produced to be entertaining and informative. The goal is to grab your customers' attention and get them to use their own device to play your message.
Hudson also advises using QR codes to link directly to a project on your store's Pinterest page, inviting customers to re-pin the project to their own pages and sharing it with friends. In fact, you can turn your checkout area into a physical Pinterest, full of photos and ideas of projects your staff, or regular customers, have done.
"Crafters love to see what other people are doing and love to show off what they're working on," Hudson says. "Invite them to join in the virtual conversation — to pin what they like at your store to their Pinterest account, to Instagram photos of ideas your store is giving them or to interact with you on Twitter through specific hashtags."
The customers in your checkout area are a captive audience. Engaging them with new ideas and facilitating conversation through social media can make them feel less captive.
Know the limits
It's important, however, not to overload your customers with too much information at the checkout area. Hudson advises integrating your education program throughout the store.
"Put a display on the end-caps in each department with one big idea," he says. "Then, when the customers are standing in line, they're seeing shorter project summaries of 17 more ideas."
The idea is to showcase your store's expertise and create value for the customers standing in line. Instead of wondering how long before it's their turn to check out and becoming impatient, customers are instead learning about new projects or the classes you offer and gathering ideas for future projects.
"If you can get customers excited about a new project, and then provide them with a list of everything they need to do it themselves, chances are they're going to buy those supplies from you," Hudson says. If your store has a greeter, Hudson suggests moving that person from the entrance to your checkout area. He says most customers who walk through the door aren't prepared to be greeted.
"Your checkout area is where you really want to interact with your customers," Hudson says. "If the line gets backed up, the greeter can help ease the tension while facilitating your education message."
The less stressful you can make the checkout experience, the more positive the experience will be for your customers, and they'll leave the store with new ideas instead of an unfavorable impression of a long wait in line.