In today’s highly competitive market of retail, the technology that is used to transact is not that crucial. No doubt quality, price, range are very important but research shows that the consumer experience should be more highly rated. Store experience is currently being flagged as the major factor to position retailers at the top of the pecking order.
The major aspect of getting personally associated or the ‘personal touch’ matters immensely in customerfacing businesses. Imagine a shopper’s route being tracked in a supermarket via GPS and the shopper being sent personalised messages of offers or discount coupons according to his/ her location in the store. For example, if a shopper is buying a bread and gets offers on butter or jam, it helps in complementing cross selling as well as increasing customer share value. Obviously, the coupons or schemes generated and given to shoppers are well understood by POS engine and has a centralised control. In the case of decentralised and traditional way of infrastructure, shoppers may identify required products quickly on the online purchases but when they walk into any store, the POS might show ‘out of stock’ or may discourage the shopper by not giving correct and updated information of the same product available by locating any other store. The online and physical shopping experiences are totally different. Hence retailers need to think about how to integrate their physical network of stores with their online environment in order to offer shoppers a shopping experience at the Point of Sale that is just as rich, engaging, and personalised as the one they can get in the online store.
The significance of POS in Omnichannel retail remains unchanged. A recent study shows that 76 per cent of selling happens through POS. Today’s shoppers expect many things from store employees. According to a Forrester study, 65 per cent of shoppers expect that information of prices should be given by sales attendants. Over 55 per cent people want instant information on stock that is not available in the shelf. About 48 per cent shoppers want to know if an out-of-stock product is available in a nearby store or online; 37 per cent people want additional product information, picture and reviews of previous buyers and their experiences. (Forrester’s North American Technographics Retail Online Survey, Q2 2012).
To do all of this, it is necessary to break down the existing data silos and introduce a single, comprehensive product data management system for all sales channels. An additional Omnichannel order management solution makes it possible to implement a standardised stock display, which is a prerequisite for any ‘Buy Online, Pickup in Store’.
Creating Excellent Shopping Experiences
Giving an experience that lasts longer delivers psychological benefits to the shopper and is rewarding for retailers. Imagine a shopper facing a sales assistant, who is standing with a tablet to enters the shopper’s credentials. Obviously, these tablets are interfaced with the central data and hence can identify this shopper’s history of purchases immediately. On the basis of it, the system generates schemes or discount coupons that may be customised for this shopper. And when this shopper asks for a particular product, details, instructions, pictures or reviews are immediately shown by the sales assistant on the tablet. Also, the tablet will show other, complementary products, resulting in boosting the cross selling. All this information sharing is happening with the coordination and intelligence used by a centralised POS engine. Hence, in case the desired product is not in
stock, its availability can be immediately determined in the nearest store or POS. Is shoppers can be given such customised, intuitive experiences, the value addition can significantly enhance sales numbers for any retailer.
Here are few rules about Omnichannel POS technology, which if followed, will transform a retailer’s operations and provide shoppers with the experience they expect.
CONSISTENCY: Uniformity in prices and transparency gives an opportunity to earn loyalty and delight of the shopper. To meet this requirement POS engine needs to ensure consistency. Shoppers should have the same basket no matter how they shop. May be the wish list started online and completed in store. To achieve this same POS transaction engine must be interfaced well with all other channels like website, mobile apps, kiosks, self-check outs, teleshopping, stationed devices in store, etc.
SUPPORT IN OVERALL CYCLE: Basket always follows the shopper. So, it is very important and crucial to give them support throughout their buying journey irrespective to the channel they use or switch to either online or physical.
POS should understand where the stock is and how it can reach shopper at the location of their choice. A single view of stock across the retail organisation.
POS needs to support intelligent fulfilment, enabling processes such as click and collect, ship from store, ship to store, reserve and try, and many more, to ensure the shopper gets what and when they want it.
BACKUPS: POS engine must be equipped with the ready back up plan. The technology connected through cloud solutions is good and robust but especially when network fails means store is unable to trade. Impact of business loss as well as delight has greater impact on overall business. To maintain the good consumer experience need to have a stand-alone purchase feature with the POS engine which should help purchasing even when the network fails. Today’s technology enables POS systems to build in automatic switchover to locally powered devices, and then recover back to the cloud when network connectivity resumes.
KYC: Providing a personalised experience with relevant and timely information and promotional offers is critical to success with shoppers.
An Omnichannel POS needs to display the same recommendations in-store as used to tempt shoppers online or via email, and importantly, ensure the offers they receive are consistent and redeemable regardless of the shopping channel.
MULTIPLE PAYMENT OPTIONS: Payments should happen in quick, reliable and secured way gives more comfort. Along with this, shoppers should not have a limited ways to pay. NCR POS provides the best ways to integrate the newest ways of payment options so that shoppers can swiftly adopt the payment as per choices. From the shopper’s perspective, for reasons of convenience and speed, they are increasingly happy to scan and pay themselves when making simple purchases and often expect retailers to have these channels in place.
Co-op retail stores in Denmark recently launched their own mobile scanning and payment system, powered by Omnico, that allows shoppers to use their smartphones to scan and pay for goods in stores. By doing so, the retailer was able to both simplify and speed up the payment process.
SCALABILITY: POS solution must have the scalability, as and when the demand is fluctuating then the technology team faces challenges of upgrading the solution or determining how scalable it is. The solution is to deploy POS in the Cloud, allowing a retailer to scale up and down their computer resources and processing power based on the number of shopper transactions. Retailer can cope with heavier trading periods such as first week of the month, school holidays, Diwali, Christmas or festival periods and so on, and scale back the technology requirement during quieter times. Utilising resources in this manner optimise the cost of ownership.
MULTI LINGUAL SUPPORT: As India being a heterogeneous country where every state, region has its own local trends, languages, culture. Along with the Omnichannel experiences the POS needs to have multi-lingual support to the shoppers as well as the operators will scale up adaptability and acceptability with in them. The friendliness in operating it will obviously improve the shoppers buying experience.
With these POS rules, retailers can gain the ability to quickly and seamlessly adapt to any future changes in technology or consumer behaviour.
About the author: Ajay Joshi is CEO of Infinitas Technology Solutions