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.
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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