by Grace Barone
Today's customers want services and products that are bigger, better, and faster. We live in the age of drive-thru dry cleaners, fast food, convenience packaging, and super-size soft drinks. These innovations are driven by consumer demand, and it only seems to be growing. The digital age has brought all sorts of new technologies that can give businesses a leg-up with new offerings that customers can access from their mobile phones. The importance of customer convenience cannot be over-emphasized. Your small business needs to be looking for new ways to offer greater convenience to your customers. Or you run the risk of losing them to those who will.
Why is Consumer Convenience So Important for Businesses Today?
The bottom line is that consumers are demanding it, and if your business isn’t convenient enough to meet their needs, they will find one that is — probably your competitors. Consumer convenience comes in many forms, and the more ways you make your business convenient to your customers, the more they will flock to your business AND sing its praises to their friends, family, coworkers, and acquaintances.
Schedules for consumers are busier than ever. Due to commuting, having a family, or attending school, more than one-third of people have less free time now than they did five years ago. This could be the explanation for why 83 percent of respondents said that convenience is much more important when making purchases. Think about it. Even though many people purchase cameras that take far better photographs than mobile phones, the majority of photos uploaded to the Internet today are taken by mobile phones. Why is that? Convenience. It is far more convenient to reach into your purse or pocket and pull out your phone than it is to hunt down and lug around an extra device. This need for convenience gives phone manufacturers the opportunity to stand out with more impressive cameras with each new phone release.
People take photos with convenience in mind, and they shop in the same way too. They are far more likely to shop where it is convenient to do so than to go out of their way to shop with you, no matter how much they like your store, your products, or you as a person. How often have you stopped at a grocery store that isn't your favorite or that you know is more expensive, just because it's on the way? Many people prioritize convenience over other factors when making purchases. Catering to that need can help you gain an advantage over your competitors.
How Can You Make Your Business More Convenient for Consumers?
The challenge for you is to determine what will make your business more convenient to consumers and how you can incorporate that into your standard business practices. These are a few improvements you can make for the convenience of your customers that will make your business shine.
Accept Major Credit Cards
The ability to accept major credit cards is a huge boon for businesses today. The more credit cards you accept, the more convenient it is for customers to use the cards that work best for them. Some cards, like American Express and Discover, are less accepted than Visa and MasterCard, which currently permeate the market. Customers may have higher limits on those cards, better rewards or point systems, or more available credit at the moment. Offering that flexibility could bring you guests who would otherwise not be able to shop with you at all.
More importantly, it gives consumers an option other than cash or check and offers you some degree of protection against the potential for fraudulent checks. It keeps your customers happy and provides them with more ease of use. Another way to make the experience more convenient is to ensure your POS system is up to date and able to accept swipe, chip, and contactless payments.
Take Advantage of the Flexibility of Clover Flex
Many small businesses are reluctant to accept credit cards due to concerns over the costs or hassle. Plenty of consumers don't carry cash with them, so you need to have cash-free options. An ATM lacks convenience and may not be a viable approach for your business. Fortunately for you, Clover Flex gives you the ability to get paid in your shop or on the go, as your business demands. Both Wi-Fi and cellular connections are supported and guests can pay using either option. This flexibility allows your mobile point-of-sale tool to be useful in a variety of circumstances creating even more convenience for your customers with card payments. The Clover Flex isn't the only mobile POS system that will help your customer's experience be the most convenient possible. VMS offers a variety of options to business owners looking to add a mobile POS system to their small business.
Have an Order Pick-Up System
Every business has different ways to offer convenience to its customers. For example, restaurants can offer order-ahead options or online ordering. Ordering ahead or online can be the difference between someone going to your restaurant or your competitor on a time-crunched lunch break. Often, a dependable order pick-up system can bring you new customers. You can also allow customers to save their payment information so checkout is faster the next time.
In addition, salons can provide online scheduling options. For many, calling to make an appointment is a forgettable task, especially if your hours overlap with the time they are at work. Allowing clients to schedule appointments online provides a 24/7 option to fit with their schedule.
In this day and age, self-service has become increasingly popular. Many businesses are looking for ways to implement self-service into their industry. Not only does having self-service options make the customer satisfied, by purchasing or ordering at their place, but it also makes up for short staffing issues. It's not very convenient to be waiting for service from staff or being helped by a run-down and overwhelmed staff member. The Clover Kiosk is a great option for businesses wanting to implement a self-service element. Another form of self-service is QR code ordering at restaurants. Customers can conveniently order and pay by scanning a QR code with their phones. If you want to learn more about QR code ordering, I wrote a blog all about it here!
Location, Location, Location
The importance of the location of your business for the sake of convenience cannot be stressed enough. A centrally located and easily accessible company will receive far more traffic than one that is out of the way or difficult to get into and out of. Don’t forget to include virtual locations in your business planning too. Inc.com suggests that an effective e-commerce solution for your business is essential to success today — more than at any other point in the history of business.
Add to the convenience of your customers by offering opportunities to order online and have items shipped directly to them. You can also provide the ability to order online, pick purchases up from your store in a matter of minutes, or opt for delivery services for the products they’ve purchased. These options add another layer of convenience that is appreciated and applauded by consumers making your business indispensable to savvy shoppers today. Utilizing tools like Clover Flex and other products from the Clover Station family makes it possible for you to accept payments in-store and by delivery drivers in a variety of formats, including credit card payments thanks to Wi-Fi and 3G connectivity.
Other Convenience Factors
For many consumers, convenience involves any one or all of these factors. Keep them in mind and build your business to incorporate as many of them as possible into your business space.
- Faster Checkout Process: The faster the checkout, the more convenient the process is, especially for those in a hurry.
- Store Loyalty Programs: You can use your rewards program to add convenience factors for your customers, such as free shipping or add-on products that make their experience easier and faster.
- Mobility: Customers are more and more involved with their mobile devices. Take your business to your customers and be sure you can reach them on their smartphones.
- Easy Flow of Store Design and Layout: A confusing store can turn away customers looking for a convenient solution. Try to keep things simple for your guests.
- Convenience Items Located Near Checkouts: Adding popular items to checkout minimizes customers' returning to the store for other products. Think condiments and plasticware at restaurants or specialized shampoos and conditioners at a salon.
If your business uses waivers, a waiver management system can make the process less of a hassle for clients. Customers can keep and save their electronic records and save time by filling them out before their appointment. Waiver management can be helpful for several businesses, including:
- Tattoo shops
- Pet services, like boarding and grooming
- Gyms and fitness classes
- Electronics repair shops
- Equipment rentals
- Photo and video studios
- Event venues
Keep your store as consumer-friendly as possible for the best results. Include any or all of these factors in your place of business. Clover has a variety of solutions to help you offer the most convenient experience possible for your customers. Contact the team today to learn more about how our solution can benefit your business.