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    On Top of Up Front

    Enhancing the front end experience must include customer needs, security concerns and the bottom line.

    Today’s grocery stores are nearly unrecognizable to the supermarkets that first emerged in the 1940s, and 2015 will bring even more changes as grocers seek solutions to increasing competition, thin margins and security threats.

    Let’s take a look at three of the major trends that will impact front end operations for grocers this year:

    Customer service differentiation: For grocery stores to stay front and center in the minds of shoppers in a highly competitive market, it’s imperative that they differentiate their customer experience. Savvy grocers are bolstering customer experiences by leveraging front-of-store services and opportunities — this is how grocers grab additional market share. The need for differentiation aligns perfectly with coin-counting services, specifically kiosks that feature excellent uptime and accurate performance, along with consumer-friendly, easy-to-use interfaces.

    In addition, as the grocery industry faces increasing pressure from growing online shopping and delivery options, it’s important for grocers to proactively implement strategies that provide both value to customers and the additional advantages of increased traffic and in-store purchases. Self-service coin redemption is a cost-effective way to achieve this goal and add profitability without taking up valuable store space.

    Security and counterfeit detection: Unfortunately, data breaches are the new normal for retailers and consumers. As much as technology has advanced in recent years to move toward more convenient payment methods, credit and debit card security issues continue to be a substantial limiting factor in the widespread use of these tools. Consumers may continue to favor more secure forms of payment — such as cash and checks — to avoid these risks. Grocers can easily bring high-tech processing to these low-tech payment forms by employing dual-purpose currency and check-processing equipment.

    Similarly, grocers must protect themselves against security risks associated with counterfeit bills. In 2013, $88.1 million worth of counterfeit currency was seized, and we don’t anticipate a decline in 2015, according to a recent Chicago Tribune report. Currency-processing equipment with advanced counterfeit detection technology — such as magnetic sensing and fluorescence testing — can help grocers spot fake bills before they’re passed on to a financial institution or recirculated, thus protecting the store’s reputation and customers while also identifying needs for additional cashier training, reducing and managing future losses in this area.

    Decreasing margins: The razor-thin margins grocers operate on will continue to be a challenge, making it critical to improve efficiency and increase productivity in all parts of the store. Grocers need to be able to process a variety of payments, including checks and cash, which, when done manually, is a tedious and time-consuming task that takes away from employees’ time spent with customers. Streamlining the deposit process with cash and check scanners will eliminate back-office inefficiencies, minimize errors with bank deposit reconciliations and free up a significant amount of time in the daily schedule, and the same machine can also be used to count cash. Maximizing efficiency with a single-platform device will also lead to real overhead spending reductions that can be used toward efforts to improve customer-end projects. In addition, some regional and national grocers need technology solutions that will work with multiple banks, and this technology can allow grocers to get credit on their deposits sooner.

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