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Self-service Options For Holiday Time Savings

Christmas shopping online

Self-service shopping strategies have gained much popularity over the last several years and these strategies make particular sense during the busy shopping periods that surround the Holiday Season.

Today's customer experience is very inter-dependent on consumers having options that include such things as using their personal devices, specialty kiosks, self-checkouts and travel check-ins, and apps that assist in finding deals, says Alix Edmiston, a communications consultant with NCR Canada.

Any services that offer time- and cost-savings to customers and allows them to interact when, how, and where they want are sure to gain popularity quickly.

Edmiston offers a few tips for navigating the self-service world of retail that will help consumers to shop quickly and efficiently.

  • Having a plan in place prior to shopping is important. From budgeting to having a gift list, a little pre-planning goes a long way to managing spending and finding what you need for everyone on your list. A little online research can help in deciding gift choices.

  • Avoid the hustle, bustle, and long lineups with online shopping, which often uncovers great deals. Many retailers now offer social media elements on their websites that include detailed product information and customer reviews. And increasingly, large retailers are offering free shipping, so online shopping with convenient delivery can offer shopping on your terms and your schedule. Many retailers also offer the option of in store pickup, returns, and exchanges, even further catering to customers' schedules.

  • Many retailers include deal offers and coupons on their sites. Make sure you check before starting your shopping. And, combined with offers and coupons, you may wish to check your loyalty point balances too. Many coupons and loyalty cards can be used for online purchases as well, so don't miss the opportunity to stretch your dollar!

  • If you choose to shop in bricks and mortar rather than online, time savings can be realized by choosing the self-checkout lanes that most large retailers now have. These lanes offer assistance if needed, while often substantially reducing long lineups.

  • Take advantage of mobile options. For example, some entertainment venues, such as movie theaters, offer barcode tickets delivered to your mobile device. A simple scan at a kiosk at the venue provides you with your tickets, thus bypassing the box office and getting you quickly where you're going.

  • When traveling, many airlines provide mobile check-in and mobile boarding passes. Additionally, many airports now offer mobile apps that provide you a guide to the airport. With these, you can quickly locate gates, ticket counters, restaurants, and shops.

The world of self-service is quickly and ever expanding. Retailers have come to realize that today's consumers are a new consumer – more technologically savvy means more price, product, and fulfillment savvy. Consumers want efficiency both in cost and in their shopping experience. Thus, a little research into the self-service options available and what ones work for you will help speed you through the holiday shopping and provide you with more leisure time to spend and enjoy with family and friends.

Karen E. Treml is staff writer for Home Improvement Retailing ( ).