There’s been good news for retailers this month. The annual NRF expo in New York City, a platform to launch new concepts and technology innovations in the retail industry, drove a key message that retail is excelling, particularly where it embraces technology to give customers what they want.
This was the optimistic message from NRF chairman and CEO of BJ’s Wholesale Club, Chris Baldwin. He pointed to the 83% of consumers who believe convenience is even more important to them than it was three years ago. “Moving forwards, consumers will expect even more,” he said.
For some it could be a daunting message. Any retailer who operates a legacy point-of-sale system might feel they have little chance to implement some of the innovative ideas floating around at NRF2020.
But they can think again. A POS system that has been around for a few years is fully capable of enhancement to meet the requirements of a commanding figure such as Kevin Johnson, CEO of Starbucks, who also spoke at NRF.
Johnson said he wants staff at the Starbuck’s 31,000 stores to be free to spend more time with customers. That could mean for example, enabling customers to order a coffee ahead and pick it up when pressed for time. But it also might mean the barista wears a microphone that uses natural language processing, allowing eye-to-eye contact during conversations with customers rather than having to look down to type in orders.
In another NRF session, Rob Garf, Vice President of Industry Strategy and Insights at Salesforce, emphasized how everything is connected today, with 9% of purchases made on merged digital destinations. He said simply bringing consumers into the physical store is no longer enough. Inevitably this will require retailers to increase “technology intensity”. From an Omnico perspective, of course, this must and can include expanding the capabilities of legacy POS systems.
A recurring theme from the event has been to improve the overall customer experience. As Rich Stafani, CIO and group VP of Dunn-Edwards Paints highlighted: “Modern consumers are armed with a lot more information than previous generations, so it’s key to understand how much interaction they want from staff.” The paint retailer uses its point-of-sale devices to display marketing information for improved customer-engagement. It also “leverages technology to make it efficient, fast, get the customers in there and out, and reduce the lines that makes it so frustrating to them”.
The frustrations from waiting in line form an ongoing talking point, and one Omnico has highlighted from its own research questioning US consumers on their retail experiences. More than half (52%) of survey respondents cited waiting in line as a key frustration, followed closely by 49% who get frustrated trying to find what they want in-store.
Augmenting a legacy POS system, such as 4690 ACE, is perfectly in step with the ideas advanced by the big thinkers at NRF2020. Quickly implemented, Omnico’s enhancements provide an entire suite of new capabilities that improve customer experience and loyalty. They will largely eliminate the frustrations arising from waiting in line to pay, or receive refunds, giving customers fast access.
And cell phone apps that enable order ahead can also eliminate delays at checkouts, through integration of scan and pay technology. Those same apps, and the shopper data they generate, make it much easier to retain customers through personalized offers and dynamic loyalty programs that are based on highly accurate insights into individual tastes and preferences.
Further extension of legacy POS capabilities gives a retailer access to revenue-generating technology such as kiosks. Kiosks save customers time but also give them more choice by displaying a retailer’s entire stock range.
The innovative technology revealed at NRF and the trends and themes heralded by the likes of Baldwin, Johnson and Garf, reveal how retailers can transform their operations for the future. With simple enhancements to existing POS, the ability to make these transformations without costly new technology is now a very real possibility.
As the outgoing NRF Chairman, Chris Baldwin had it in his rallying message: “Retail is one of the most consumer-centric industries today. Retail is thriving.”
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