Next-Generation Point-of-Sale Solutions: The Heart of Anytime, Anywhere Retailing Strategies
By Adam Blake, VP and General Manager, Department and Specialty Retail, NCR
A shopper finds a particular pair of shoes he wants, but his size isn’t in stock. Instead of walking away empty-handed, he browses a kiosk and orders the shoes, choosing home delivery. Another shopper is allergic to an ingredient in a face cream she sees in a store. Using her tablet, a store associate identifies that common allergen across different products the shopper is considering, then finds and recommends a product that will be safe for the shopper to use.
These scenarios aren’t theoretical. The world of digital retailing is already here. Retailers are using technology to take shoppers on sophisticated journeys, offering customers a seamless, rewarding and memorable experience. Even so, many retailers continue to struggle to achieve cohesive integration across channels (online, mobile, in-store) – often representing the largest hurdle they face for digital retailing.
With increasing shopper expectations for instant access across various channels to relevant content, promotions and services, retailers caught without the tools, expertise and strategy to develop and execute engagements across these integrated channels will be challenged to effectively communicate brand value and deliver business growth.
Of the various tools, one of the most critical is the point-of-sale solution. Working behind the scenes, the point-of-sale sits at the heart of a successful digital retailing strategy and should integrate with back-end systems such as inventory, e-commerce, and store management. While merchandise brings shoppers in-store or online, the right technologies take them from points of sale to points of experience, automating processes and differentiating retailers who deliver a unique, superior shopping journey.
Challenged By Your Siloed Systems?
Historically, most existing retail store infrastructures have not been designed to natively handle multidirectional data communication and synchronization, and retailers are now feeling the burden as customer data grows. Retailers have had to separately manage new e-commerce and mobile commerce channels, and handle the disparate information and functionality “silos” of their organizations. The disconnect between systems can negatively impact retailers’ ability to capture sales across all channels – for example, research by business and technology services firm Cognizant shows that by a factor of three to one, shoppers ranked online pricing as their top reason for shopping in-store but purchasing online.
Maintaining such fragmented channels and assuring data and business processes are seamlessly synchronized requires significant time and money. This turns the process of accomplishing a seemingly simple digital retailing strategy into a poorly aligned, inconsistent and inefficient platform that does not deliver on its promise, limiting return on investment and draining precious resources.
An advanced POS platform can support truly effective anywhere, anytime retailing across channels by breaking down traditional barriers between the in-store, online and mobile shopping experience. Investing in a flexible POS solution provides the technology needed to roll out resource-saving strategies that can be properly integrated into current retail models, allowing retailers to move beyond simply having presence across channels to creating the high-touch retail experience previously limited to online commerce. It empowers sales associates while automating and enhancing the shopper experience by giving customers choice and exclusivity.
The following POS implementations and strategies ensure the consumer shopping experience is effectively streamlined across all channels.
Mobilizing In-Store Interactions
Retailers need to help shoppers initiate and close orders throughout their retail journey without losing personalized interaction. There is currently a strong trend for the in-store POS to be mobilized throughout the store, transforming mobile devices and tablets into “clienteling” tools that can help increase basket size, handle payments and revolutionize the traditional checkout process. This ultimately ensures a better in-store experience and stronger brand loyalty.
According to an Accenture survey of 15,000 shoppers across 20 countries, 38 percent of respondents wanted a better seamless experience. The same survey revealed that 32 percent in largely mature markets wanted some of the convenience of online transferred to the store. Retailers need to cater to the modern shopper and ensure they receive as consistent and personalized shopping experience as possible across channels. Digitally savvy shoppers respond well if the same experience they receive through their online channels is readily available and mirrored inside their favorite brick-and-mortar stores. By integrating customer data from web or mobile browser applications alongside front-end, in-store POS touch points, retailers can effectively eliminate traditional barriers between non-integrated sales channels.
Further Digitization of the POS
In the future, the POS will have even more advanced digital capabilities to help retailers drive a seamless multi-channel experience. Whether it’s enabling shoppers to “click and collect” or browse goods in-store for same-day delivery, the in-store experience must be in alignment with digital channels. To be an integral part of a digital retail strategy, the POS will need to recognize individual shoppers, aggregate their purchase history, specific interests and preferences – then efficiently and accurately provide personalized services.
Nearly every day, I see a remarkable digital tactic designed to either engage the shopper or allow the retailer to know their customers better and create offers they can’t refuse. What retailers will need more of in the future are technologies that integrate with existing infrastructure in a way that is invisible to the customer, so the retailer’s products and services are what takes center stage, rather than the actual technology itself. From my perspective, it starts with future-proofing your POS solution and making sure it complements the growing list of anywhere and anytime expectations of shoppers who are gravitating to retailers who deliver the complete experience they demand.
Walgreens’ profits miss Street expectations
Walgreens reported a 16% year-over-year jump in third quarter profit, but was forced to withdraw its previously issued fiscal 2016 guidance because it missed Wall Street estimates.
The company’s net earnings for the quarter were $722 million compared to $624 million in the prior-year period. Net sales increased 6% to $19.4 billion from $18.3 billion, while same-store sales increased 4.8%.
Lower taxes also boosted the company’s profits, but pressure on pharmacy gross profit margins and a 0.7% decrease in same-store traffic kept them from hitting Wall Street’s expectations.
Despite withdrawing its guidance for fiscal 2016, Walgreens confirmed that it plans to move forward with its purchase of U.K. drugstore retailer Alliance Boots, which it currently holds a 45% stake in, by the end of 2015. The company will issue an update on the acquisition as well as its revised guidance in July or August.
“We continued to see improving top-line growth in the third quarter driven by increased daily living sales and strong increases in both prescriptions filled and our pharmacy market share,” said Walgreens president and CEO Greg Wasson. “At the same time, we are experiencing increased pressure on pharmacy gross profit margins. We maintained solid expense control in the third quarter to offset some of this pressure while understanding that there is more to be done. We will be accelerating our optimization efforts, including taking additional steps to lower expenses companywide. In addition, our joint venture with Alliance Boots continues to generate significant benefits.”
Bluetooth toothbrush gains traction in U.K., hits U.S. in fall
A new toothbrush from Oral-B might make brushing less of a burden, and it’s thanks to an app.
The SmartSeries 6000 electric toothbrush connects to the Oral-B smartphone app via Bluetooth to help user monitor and inform their brushing routines. The app can also be used as a remote for the toothbrush, programming it to work for a certain length of time or to focus on certain areas based on data that the toothbrush collects and syncs with the app.
“Oral-B has a long history of innovation in oral care and this is one of the most widely anticipated products in our more than 60 year history,” Procter &Gamble’s VP, Global Oral Care, Wayne Randall said. “The possibilities for improved oral health offered by data-based solutions and increased collaboration between patients and dental professionals are significant and exciting trends, and we’re proud to be the pioneer in the space.”
According to tests conducted by Oral-B, people using the SmartSeries 6000 managed to brush for the recommended two minutes or longer, and like other electric toothbrushes, it’s able to remove 100% more plaque than a manual toothbrush.
Beyond its Bluetooth connectivity to the Oral-B smartphone app the toothbrush features six different cleaning modes and a pressure sensor that slows down the brush head when users push too hard. While users brush their teeth, the smartphone app will display weather forecasts, news and National Geographic photos. The app is currently available for iOS devices and will be released for Android devices in the fall.
The SmartSeries 6000 currently retails in the U.K. for £229, which is about $389, though the actual retail price will be known in the fall, when Oral-B plans to start selling the toothbrush in the U.S.