Eurostop White Paper Summer 2013
The benefits of a flexible approach to providing your customers with an omni-channel shopping experience
What is Omni-Channel Retail?
Omni-channel retailing is a natural progression from multi-channel retailing. It aims to deliver a totally integrated, seamless shopping experience for the customer covering all outlets including bricks & mortar shops, online stores, internet enabled mobile devices, and catalogues.
These days a customer expects to be able to shop from whatever device they have handy, whether it that’s a smartphone while on the move or on the way to work, a desktop/laptop PC while at their desk or a tablet while relaxing in the evening. As well as the retailer’s own online store, customers may also choose to shop via online marketplaces such as EBAY or Amazon, or they may prefer to shop via an app on their smartphone. Whichever route they take they expect their personal information, preferences, likes and individual promotions to follow them and this includes when they go to the bricks & mortar store.
Increased turnover is always good news for the retailer, and the growth of internet shopping has helped many retailers broaden their customer base. However, processing sales from so many different sources and the level of integration required to provide a seamless service to the customer is quite a challenge, even for tier one retailers with a large dedicated IT facility.
For independent retailers the challenge can seem quite daunting however at Eurostop we have the answer. Take a Step by Step approach by moving from Multi-Channel to Omni-channel. By selecting one software partner that can supply and support all your retail management requirements both now and in the future, you significantly reduce any issues with integration, and you have a path for future growth as the Eurostop solution expands to meet your requirements.
Omni-Channel Solutions – a Platform Approach
Omni-channel solutions are all encompassing, providing everything you need to provide a seamless shopping experience to your customers. A platform approach, ideally from one supplier, will ensure that every element of the system works perfectly with every other element. It also means that information only needs to be entered once, ensuring integrity of data. In addition, pre-configured links to your ERP system will also help to provide up to date information to every part of the business.
A retail management system is an end-to-end solution that keeps all your sales data, stock information, merchandising information, details of discounts and promotions, customer loyalty data, marketing campaigns, warehousing, wholesale, and e-commerce. However, for smaller retailers, it can be a fairly simple system that enables you to take sales and monitor stock levels. The key is to find a system that you will not need to replace as your business expands and business requirements change.
At Eurostop we specialise in providing the retail solution to suit your business, whether you have 100+ shops with a full e-commerce/m-commerce operation, or if you are an independent start up with big ambitions.
Retail Management/Head Office
A head office based stock control system enables retailers to derive business benefits from having all the information at one central point. Management staff including Directors, Buyers, Merchandiser’s, Store Operations, Warehousing etc have visibility of Company, Store and Staff performance and react quickly to key performance indicators.
The Head Office team benefit immediately as the software is less labour intensive and Sales are improved with management of Stock, Pricing Management, Auto Replenishment, Planning etc.
A head office system provides powerful reporting facilities with high level information and the detail behind so that managers can click through to see the specific information, that will enable them to make fact based business decisions.
EPOS and MPOS – collect sales data from any location
An electronic point of sale (EPOS) system is crucial for all bricks and mortar stores. It collects details of all transactions and is usually linked to a card payment system.
An EPOS system monitors what stock has been sold, and therefore how much stock you have left. It will tell you how much each individual item was sold for, so you can see what margin you are making.
At a very simple level this tells you how much money you have taken on a day, a week or a month. You can compare sales data with the previous period to see how you are progressing or with the same period last year.
MPOS (mobile point of sale) enables you have the same till functionality operating from a smartphone, tablet or laptop. This enables staff to perform stock enquiries for customers while out on the shop floor and it can be used to power a kiosk solution, which can provide pop-up tills on the shop floor.
e-commerce and m-commerce
Essentially, omni-channel systems provide e-commerce and m-commerce as standard. Traditionally these areas would have had their own separate systems, leading to issues with integration, duplication of stock management, and often confusion for the customer who would often receive communications with sometimes conflicting messages from different sides of the business. Being able to fulfil all orders from one pool of stock maximises sales, and avoids the risk of overselling. Customers are able to purchase whatever stock is available, even if they are in a store that has run out, staff simply locate stock at another store, or at the warehouse and order on behalf of the customer.
In order to provide a better experience for the shopper, e-commerce sites need to be optimised to run well on any mobile device. That means that the sites need to be designed using fluid layout and responsive design principals so that the website is automatically optimised to fit any screen size, from smartphones such as iPhones and Android devices, up to iPads, other tablet devices and desktop computers.
- Add-ons which can make a site engaging and easy to use include such features as
- Guest purchase, where customers do not need to set up an account in order to make a purchase (which can be slow and cumbersome using a mobile device)
- Use of PayPal, as well as the usual secure payment options
- Store locators that use postcode or GPS proximity to find the nearest store
- Zooming to view product details
- Click to call/click to email buttons
- Quick links to ordering and payment
- Links to Social media
Taking a platform approach to omni-channel retailing means that fulfilment for all shops and orders placed online is handled using the same system. Store replenishment can be automated, and fulfilment for internet orders can take place at the same time, maximising use of resources. Based on sales data the replenishment reports may be generated automatically, based on criteria defined by the retailer, and sent to the warehouse for picking and packing.
In the warehouse, stock can be moved from a bulk location to a pickable location for pickers. The pickers are directed to where the stock is kept and how many of each item are required to fulfil each order ensuring that the correct items are sent. This tight control in the warehouse reduces the cost and time spent picking stock. If the Warehouse does not have the stock, the fulfilment software will automatically send a pick request to the branch holding the physical stock.
CRM or Customer loyalty
Customer loyalty should be built into the system so that it is linked to your website and supports marketing initiatives. In this way special offers and promotions can be targeted at specific sets of customers based on previous activity and buying patterns. This targeted approach helps to build rapport with customers, which can be followed through in store because when you input their Loyalty card, their loyalty data will appear on the EPOS till. This leads to increased sales, high brand value and increased customer retention.
Newer developments such as paperless receipts for in-store shoppers, where the receipt is emailed rather than printed, enables retailers to reach out to the customer after the sale with specific marketing messages.
Time and attendance
An EPOS system can be used to monitor staff hours. Staff log on to the system when they arrive and log out when they leave. This encourages punctuality, and eliminates disputes about hours worked, staff know that they will get paid fairly for what they have worked. This can be integrated into footfall counting solutions so that conversion rates are available.
Footfall counting systems can be included within your omni-channel system. These systems tell you how many customers were in the store at any given time. This enables you to identify the busiest times, where maybe you need more staff. By changing your opening hours slightly, you may boost sales, while keeping staff costs the same.
As communications get faster and faster and organisations become more aware of environmental and cost issues, so more retailers are looking at managed or outsourced services. Retail systems are managed off-site or in the cloud on your behalf. This removes the need for heavy upfront investment in new hardware to run the system on, removes the overhead of managing the system, with any updates for the software installed automatically.
While some organisations will favour a ‘big bang’ approach to omni-channel this won’t suit every retailer or every budget. For many a gradual approach will be more appropriate. A phased roll-out of omni-channel will enable staff and customers to get used to new features and functions gradually, without the upheaval associated with a large installation. This approach also means for smaller retailers that they can start with a more basic system and add new functions to the system as the business expands, confident that the new elements will bolt seamlessly into place with none of the integration issues associated with disparate systems.
For more information about Omni-Channel Retail Solutions offered by Eurostop please visit: www.eurostop.co.uk
Eurostop Limited, West Africa House, Ashbourne Road, London, W5 3QP
020 8991 2700
Covid-19 can reboot belt and road initiative towards a sustainable future
- A new CMS report reveals that Covid-19 has boosted Chinese enthusiasm for adopting the principles of BRI 2.0, leading to an increased focus on sustainable and environmentally friendly projects such as smart cities and renewables & hydro
- The appetite for an improved ‘Health Silk Road’ has significantly increased among the majority of both international and Chinese senior executives involved in BRI
- Meanwhile, the research uncovers a clear mismatch in sentiment between Chinese and non-Chinese towards BRI and the success of projects
As global economies strive to build back better and greener from the global pandemic, global law firm CMS’s 2020 Belt and Road Initiative report reveals that the pandemic has boosted Chinese enthusiasm for adopting the principles of BRI 2.0, which will pivot it towards an environmentally friendly future.
BRI 2.0 is a new phase of BRI intended to encourage international involvement, which was announced in April 2019 by President Xi Jinping at the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing.
The study was conducted in partnership with global research firm Acuris and TianTong Law Firm and included a major survey of 500 senior executives from both Chinese and international participants in BRI projects. Their views were sought on a range of issues around BRI, including likely future involvement and obstacles they have encountered to date.
Increased enthusiasm for sustainable projects
The research found that nearly two-thirds of both Chinese (63%) and international (62%) executives agree that it is important that their BRI projects should be sustainable and environmentally friendly. Furthermore, the majority (84%) of Chinese respondents believe that sustainability and environmental considerations will be given greater importance when planning and completing BRI 2.0 projects.
Enthusiasm remains for traditional sectors like logistics, roads and rail, and now, particularly among Chinese executives, there is growing interest in relatively new sectors like energy networks and power grids, smart cities and renewables & hydro. For international respondents, the emphasis on sustainable projects is also increasing, with only a handful (13%) previously involved in renewables and hydro but nearly three times as many (34%) planning to target the sector for future opportunities.
Importantly, CMS’s research reveals that Covid-19 has given a boost to the ‘Health Silk Road’, which aims to increase medical infrastructure and public health in BRI countries. Nearly all the international executives (93%) and 85% of Chinese respondents see Covid-19 as a major catalyst for it.
Munir Hassan, Head of CMS Energy Group, said: “It’s clear that interest in more ‘modern’ and sustainable sectors, such as smart cities, healthcare and renewables has increased in significance. Renewables projects typically require less capital commitment, are quicker to complete and are likely to be judged at lower risk, which will be attractive to international and Chinese participants. As efforts to limit climate change intensify, there will be a major role for BRI investments to play.”
Mismatch between Chinese and non-Chinese views
The research reveals that general sentiment towards BRI has declined in the last 12 months and one reason for this is geopolitical uncertainty, particularly among international participants. The survey has also uncovered a clear mismatch between views of Chinese and international executives that are involved in BRI projects.
Over two-thirds (69%) of international respondents said they found the process of participating in BRI related projects more challenging than they had expected, compared to just 40% of Chinese respondents. Likewise, only 37% of international participants said they were satisfied with the process and outcome of their involvement, compared to the majority (75%) of Chinese equivalents.
International participants have experienced difficulty with transparency, information flow and equality in partnerships and for many, this had impacted their view of BRI. But there are signs that more projects are now being structured to accommodate these concerns providing attractive opportunities for those international participants still keen on BRI involvement.
Regarding future partnerships / JVs, Chinese respondents are more enthusiastic than non-Chinese, with 77% likely to consider them, compared to just under half of non-Chinese (48%).
Munir Hassan added: “A key area of growth is likely to lie in projects that meet the trends of the future. Affordable projects, embracing modern technologies and methods, as well as the “open, green and clean” approach of BRI 2.0, will be those that stand the greatest chance of success.”
Two-thirds of finance professionals are now more efficient due to the Covid-19 crisis
The Covid-19 crisis is making a big impact on the efficiency of the UK’s finance departments, with 66% of financial professionals reporting that they are working more efficiently since the onset of the pandemic in March of this year. The results from a recent survey into the impact of the pandemic on the sector by fintech company Onguard revealed that this increased efficiency is primarily due to the obligation to work from home and rapid digitisation during this period.
Changing attitudes to digital transformation
71% of financial professionals agree that their department was able to rapidly adjust to home working within just a few days, with 21% reporting that their organisation has invested in specialist software in order to do so. This has resulted in just under three quarters of those surveyed believing that they are able to perform their work well from home, with only 35% still in need of specialist software to collaborative effectively.
Alongside the implementation of new technology, changing attitudes to digital transformation have played a role in the successful move to remote working. Research conducted earlier this year prior to the Covid-19 outbreak in the UK highlighted employees’ resistance to digital transformation as a major challenge, however now only 11% of organisations view employee attitudes as a barrier to change.
Working from home is the new norm
Looking ahead, 61% of financial professionals would like the flexibility to keep working from home permanently, thanks to the benefits provided by new technology.
Marieke Saeij, CEO of Onguard: “It is certainly admirable how English businesses have adapted during the Covid-19 pandemic. Pre-pandemic, digital transformation initiatives within many organisations was a multi-year plan, but the events of this year meant that businesses could not wait to implement further strategies. Almost exclusively, colleagues now update each other digitally. Because of this, its crucial that organisations have the right software in place to keep everything running effectively.
Due to the challenge of finance professionals communicating via digital tools, it is important that data is kept up-to-date and contains real-time insights so professionals can make the correct remote decisions in an efficient and collaborative way. With the help of the right software, the finance professional can be sure they always have the correct data to do their job and assist both the organisation and customer moving forward.”
Two thirds of people believe their work travel patterns have changed permanently
Alphabet research shows accelerating demand for mobility and EVs after lockdown
- Only 35% of people expect to return to normal travel habits
- A quarter of consumers said their next vehicle would be electric
- 55% of consumers think all delivery vans should be electric, and one in three would pay extra to guarantee it
Farnborough, UK – 29 September 2020: Alphabet (GB) today published a new report examining how the pandemic has accelerated changes to travel and transport, altering consumer and business travel habits in UK cities.
Changing travel patterns
With mass migration to working from home, in March, road traffic travel dropped to levels not seen since 1955 and journeys on the London Underground fell by 95%. Today, only 6% of those travelling to work by train feel comfortable, dropping to just 4% for tube users.
Use of more active modes of transport like cycling and walking have more than doubled to 20% and 10% respectively. A quarter of 18-44-year olds expect to retain the new modes of travel they used during lockdown, and only one in three expects a return to normal travel patterns.
Private vehicle preference
As such, the company car may also see a surge in popularity. Alphabet’s research showed 37% of consumers would now consider using a company car following the pandemic, to enable them to travel safely, whereas prior to lockdown many employees favoured a cash benefit. These changes are likely to remain for some time due to ongoing safety concerns and fleet managers will need to have a flexible fleet offering to handle these changing preferences when building their future mobility plans.
The improvements in city air quality during lockdown appear to have had an impact on public perception and sales of electric vehicles (EV). Adoption of EVs continued to accelerate during the pandemic, taking a record market share of new vehicle registrations in August. Nearly a quarter (24%) of consumers said an EV or plug-in hybrid vehicle (PHEV) would be their next choice and 40% would strongly consider one. This is a substantial increase from the 19% of people considering EVs at the end of 2019.
People also want to see businesses supporting the shift to EVs and are prepared to pay for it. Over half (55%) of respondents felt delivery vans should be electric, while one in three said they would be happy to pay extra for an electric delivery vehicle. Fleets that make the shift early have the opportunity to benefit significantly in terms of brand perception and preference.
Simon Swan, Director Future Mobility, Arcadis said: “Due to the impact of COVID-19, all sales of vehicles took a major hit; however, electric vehicles were affected less than other vehicle types. As the UK emerges from lockdown, electric vehicle registrations continue to rise in absolute numbers with August new car registrations figures showing a record market share for pure electric cars. Analysts were expecting EV sales to hit 10% of new car registrations in 2022, not 2020. Hitting 9.7% in August is a big deal for the UK market.”
Alan McCleave, UK General Manager, NewMotion said: “As adoption spreads and we embrace electric vehicles – especially in the commercial sector – we need a much more robust smart charging infrastructure. Fleet managers need to feel confident that powering their plug-in vehicles will be as simple and reliable as it is for traditional vehicles. Introducing interoperability, so a single payment solution works across all charging networks, is a large and necessary change. With a focus on electrification, and the infrastructure to support it, fleets will be a central part of the national recovery from COVID-19 and our path to a greener economy.”
Nick Brownrigg, Chief Executive Officer, Alphabet (GB) said: “The pandemic has had a huge impact on people and businesses, fundamentally changing how we move around and use our cities. While we can’t be sure of the long-term impact, it’s clear a lot of these changes are here to stay, and for fleet managers flexibility becomes ever more important. At Alphabet, we are working closely with all our customers to help them navigate the new world. People are adopting new habits and behaviours so it’s key that digitalisation and sustainability are central to any fleet strategy. Now is the time for all of us to invest and meet the changing needs of employees and customers, so we can ensure everyone feels safe and confident when travelling to work.”
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