Creating the perfect store: Getting the back-end right
This week we look at the first of the three elements that create the Retail Trifecta: Point of sale and back office systems. What I discuss below is collected from the successful retail trends we are seeing around the world right now. They are each contributing to the creation of the "Perfect Store," whether it be a high street or mall store that shoppers loves to shop day or night.
Point of sale and back office systems, whilst not seen as exciting by the buying office or marketing team, are the backbone of a retailer's operations. They are the moment of truth when shoppers interact with a store to transact their purchase. Done well, these systems ensure items are in store at the right price when shoppers want them. This allows shoppers to seamlessly and quickly transact, and in the true discretionary-spend retailers, provides the store associates with readily accessible information to help shoppers with their purchase or recommended other items.
So, what's trending at the moment?
The perfect store has a much wider range of items for sale online than the product range available at one of its stores. This allows for greater choice, better availability, and the ability for shoppers to buy an item online or in-store from the retailer's entire inventory. The shopper should be able to select to either have their purchase delivered to their closest store or to their home.
A dynamic, interactive website with real people working in it. A website today must showcase the store locations, key staff, products, deals and product information. The perfect store also allows shoppers to shop online, voice-to-voice or via a store. For large ticket items, retailers should have an online service team with the systems that allow a store associate manning the website to contact the shopper and assist them with their valuable purchase.
The shopper should be able to process or fulfil their purchase entirely online, or on the website supported over the phone with the online associate, or be given direct contact with a store associate in their closest store where they can complete their transaction and collect their item as "click and collect."
Loyalty systems are still an important part of retaining and rewarding existing customers. However, they still struggle to dynamically change shoppers' behaviour, and they only touch the 30-40% of shoppers that are active and known in the system. Ironically, the other 60-70% of shoppers who visit stores are never targeted with offers tailored to them. They are the invisible majority.
For this reason, Sainsbury's has focused on Targeted transaction marketing, a tool that according to its CEO Justin King has grown Sainsbury's UK grocery business "one customer at a time".
Sainsbury's UK has outgrown Tesco for the past three years in the face of Tesco's world-leading dunnhumby database and direct targeting software. Targeted transaction marketing software reads each transaction in real time at store level then tailors and prints an offer for the shopper on their checkout receipt. It's not just a random offer in words, but a high quality image of the offer with a supporting barcode that brings the offer alive when scanned on the store's POS scanners. This software is easy to install, uses existing POS printers and creates thousands of tailored offers that suit each shopper's individual purchase.
Fast-scan/self-scan and touch 'n' go pay technologies are time friendly for the shopper and store associates. In this area the productivity improvement for shoppers has lowered transaction time at the checkout from two minutes in some older department stores and 20 seconds in older convenience stores, to 10 seconds and two seconds respectively.
Mobile POS and BOS versions of the fast scan and touch 'n' go pay technologies allow shoppers to transact anywhere in the store, allowing every store associate to be a mobile checkout. They also improve the shopping experience by allowing store associates to walk around the store "hip-to-hip" with shoppers rather than meet face-to-face at a checkout. They are also a source of mobile knowledge platforms that allow access to product knowledge for the shopper, and act as a self-training product knowledge platform for the store associates during down times in the store's selling cycle. Oh, and when they are supported with email receipt generation, they help protect the environment too.
I could continue with three or four more examples, but space dictates I keep to just these. Where can you see them and experience them? One or two of each of them are deployed in Apple stores everywhere, most grocery stores, Sainsbury's in the UK, most Toyota dealers in major markets and most chain convenience stores. But just imagine if they were all implemented in the one perfect store!
As CROSSMARK CEO, Kevin Moore looks at the world of retailing from grocery to pharmacy, bottle shops to car dealers, corner store to department stores. In this blog, Kevin covers retail news, ideas, companies and emerging opportunities in Australia and across the world. His international career in sales and marketing has seen him responsible for businesses in over 40 countries, which has earned him grey hair and a wealth of expertise in international retailers and brands.