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Does automation kill the personal touch?

When the first cashier-less, checkout-less grocery store, Amazon Go, opened in Seattle last month, some heralded this as the ‘store of the future’.

But is this really going to impact the high street any time soon?


Aside from the technology costs involved, there’s a simple fact that, while some customers are happy with the in/out experience of a big box retailer, others clearly prefer the more unique experience and ‘the personal touch’ that comes from a smaller, independent outlet.


So, this begs a question: Can you give your customers the great, personal experience they want but still harness the benefits that come with automation?


We think the answer to this is YES and, while there are many factors that could come into play, here’s three of the most important:


– Having knowledgeable, well-trained sale staff

– Understanding your customers and learning from critical business data

– Leveraging the power of your POS


The sales team


For a long time, ‘salesperson’ was a dirty word, conjuring up the image of someone who aggressively pitches their products to a customer who ends up buying something they didn’t need or want.


But that was in the pre-Internet, pre-smart phone days – a time when merchants had the upper hand by holding all the stock and all the knowledge.


Today, the buyer/ seller relationship is very different. Before they even walk into your store, many of your customers will have done their research, have a reasonable idea of the market and have a considerable amount of information about the product they’re looking for. They may also be ready and waiting to publish a review of your store online once they leave – especially if they have a bad experience!


The modern sale is more of a ‘pull’ than a ‘push’ and, while that starts with a great online presence, once your customers walk through your doors, it’s all about giving them the best customer experience.


That can involve everything from your visual merchandising tactics, to the way you greet and smile as customers enter the store, to the speed and efficiency with which you handle transactions. But, perhaps most important of all, is whether you can make your customers feel you’re using your expertise to truly help them and you’re not going to waste any of their precious time – it’s a matter of trust.


To achieve that, it’s crucial that your staff are trained to know your products inside and out – to a point where they can easily explain the value of the product and can appropriately upsell or cross-sell. If staff know how to make connections between similar items, then they can help the customer feel more satisfied and increase revenue. For instance, if a customer is looking at a particular style of dress, a well-trained member of staff might be able to show them a similarly cut version at a slightly higher price point or recommend an accessory.


Understanding customers/ learning from critical data


One way of better understanding your customers and their relationship with your store or products is to capture their email address by offering e-receipts.


When transactions are aligned to email addresses, you can build a picture of what specific customers come to you to for and use that information to generate repeat business. Be sure to respect their inbox but do communicate with your customers if you can – thank them for their purchases, ask them to review a product, invite them to join your loyalty scheme, or send them a voucher code to use when they next pop in.


Another crucial point is to always seek out the data that helps you measure what works. So, you might look at ‘sales per employee’ figures to identify your top performers or measure whether staff training is having an impact. Or you could look at the data around sales of individual products to identify your best sellers (and the deadweight) so you can fine-tune your product offer.

Leverage the power of your POS

Providing a fantastic or unique customer experience might be another challenge for your business, but thankfully the level of automation provided in today’s smart POS systems can help you at every step.


By leveraging the power of a system like the Good Till, you can:


  • Quickly train staff in the nuts/ bolts of making a transaction so that they can focus on delivering great customer service.
  • Store and easily access all kinds of detailed product information which staff can use to develop their knowledge and expertise.
  • Easily set up promotional offers or loyalty programmes.
  • Offer e-receipts as a way of capturing customers’ email addresses, then use that data to inform your promotional messages and tailor communications.
  • Offer efficient, speedy transactions, something which helps to avoid long lines of irritated customers and frees up staff time, so they can engage better with customers on the shop floor.
  • Improve the aesthetics of your store (with a lean and sleek design).
  • Have all the analytics and reports that you need (e.g. around inventory, sales or staff performance) so you can measure success and make smarter business decisions.


To find out more about how the Good Till can help you enhance your customer experience while experiencing the multiple benefits of automated processes, contact us.


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