Worth the Wait

Transforming the Checkout Experience

By Lindsay Squires Chrisp, Tagawa Gardens, Events & Community OutReach Coordinator

As springtime days lengthen, garden center shoppers wait in longer checkout lines, shifting from foot to foot behind full carts. A mother with a stroller coaxes her restless children to be patient. Two friends readjust their grip on heavy hanging baskets. A businessman checks his watch, hoping to make a quick purchase.

How might garden centers make this wait worthwhile by providing a seamless transaction process? Checkout is a defining moment that can enhance a positive shopping experience or diffuse a guest’s frustration.

About five years ago, Tagawa Gardens realized that it needed to significantly improve its transaction time and better accommodate a multi-generational shopping experience. During peak season, slow-moving lines can lead to abandoned shopping carts, stinging online reviews, and lost customers.

After a complete overhaul of Tagawa Gardens’ register area, these key improvements transformed the checkout experience:

  • Positioning the registers so that each cashier directly faces the approaching guest
  • Widening the check-out aisles for guest comfort and accessibility
  • Introducing cordless scanners to increase the mobility of cashiers
  • Installing touchscreen computers to eliminate time-consuming manual input
  • Integrating manufacturers’ barcodes when possible
  • Creating a touchscreen button for high volume items, such as plant packs and hanging baskets

While these changes have proven to be wonderfully effective, the check-out process is only as helpful as the caring cashier behind the counter. Tagawa Gardens Cashier Supervisor, Sherry, facilitates training with only two cashiers at a time in order to maximize individual learning.

New cashiers are also shown a full cart of products, including obscure items that may not have individual tags. These cashiers are then tasked with putting away all items, which familiarizes them with the garden center and equips them with broader product knowledge.

Throughout the training process, Sherry emphasizes to her cashiers the importance of these simple actions:

  • Remaining at one’s register and immediately acknowledging the approaching guest
  • Proactively assessing merchandise on a guest’s cart and developing a strategy
  • Preparing a shopping bag or placing a plant tray on the counter as the guest arrives
  • Grouping merchandise according to plant type or item
  • Making each guest as comfortable as possible during the transaction

Returning cashiers are a tremendous asset. Experienced staff comprise a training community for new cashiers who are still learning the process.

Tagawa Gardens’ new register configuration also allows two cashiers to be positioned at adjoining registers. By strategically pairing cashiers during the busy season, a new cashier can benefit from the immediate support of an experienced cashier.

“Create a sense of connection. Believe me, it pays off!” Sherry said, referring to the helpful camaraderie among her cashier team.

Spring register lines will continue to grow, but for hardworking cashiers and garden center staff, the best guest to serve is always the one right in front of you. Improved technology and flow indisputably elevate the guest experience, yet a kind-hearted cashier may create the lasting impression that makes a customer for life.

About the contributor: Originally a Nebraska farm girl, Lindsay Squires Chrisp is the Events & Community OutReach Coordinator at Tagawa Gardens in Centennial, Colorado. In this vibrant setting, Lindsay is grateful to use her passion for people, community, and nature by planning nearly 130 educational classes, multiple family-friendly events, and other community learning opportunities each year.