We were delighted to be asked to contribute to a recent article in the Sunday Business Post as part of their feature on ICT in the Retail Industry. This article was published on Sunday, 25th August, 2019. A summary of the article is provided below. Alternatively please click on the link below to download a PDF of the piece.
E-commerce and bricks and mortar are becoming allies after a worrying time when online selling was thought to be the nemesis of the on-street store, writes Fiona Alston
‘I think it’s changing around. Previously there was a worry customers were going into shops to try things and then buying them online,” said Patrick Heslin, managing director of Retail Integration. “With our customers, what we are finding is, it’s the other way around, people are searching online for something and then going into shops to pick it up, particularly for more expensive items.
“They will look online first to see what’s in stock, to see who has the best range of stock, and they will go in armed with that information. If your website doesn’t reflect your bricks and mortar store, you’re going to have an unhappy customer.”
Retail Integration is an Irish company that has been providing retail systems to speciality retailers since 1996. Its team of engineers and developers have been listening to their clients’ needs to make their Meridian EPOS solution sophisticated enough to meet customer requirements in retail sectors such as fashion and footwear shops, department stores, and tourist-focused, gift and jewellery stores.
“We’d be very cognisant that a café would have completely different needs than a convenience store. A cash register is grand, it’s going to record exactly what you sell – the systems have been doing that the last 30 years. But what you really need is sales information, to find out what lines are selling really well so when you’re out buying you have that information to hand and you can make decisions based on it.
“Retailers should be looking for two things: one is a decision support system to enable you to purchase, to stock correctly; the second is customer interaction to enable you to know who your customers are, what floats their boat, what’s the best way to communicate with them, and how they react to different things that you try out in the shop.
“Speed is another thing: if your system isn’t sufficiently fast – and a system has to handle offers on the fly, it has to handle all sorts of orders etc – if it’s any way slow, your customers are going to leave the end of the queue. They are not going to stand around and wait for a slow EPOS system. You have to process that transaction as quickly as possible to meet customers’ expectations; if you’re slow you are going to lose the customer.”
Till interaction in speciality retail could soon be a thing of the past: we are already seeing the scanning system moved to the shop floor.
“Speciality retail is having to spend time with your customer, so we’ve enabled the capture of a transaction on a mobile device, say a mobile phone on a shop floor. The sales assistant can be with the customer on the shop floor going through the different items and as they select them, they can scan them, upload it to the till and complete the transaction at the till.
“We are working with payment providers now, the likes of SagePay and Elavon, to develop a facility whereby the complete transaction can be carried out on the shop floor without ever going to the till.”
Patrick Heslin, managing director of Retail Integration: ‘Speciality retail is having to spend time with your customer’