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Omni-Channel Retail – Step by Step

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Eurostop White Paper Summer 2013

Eurostop-LogoThe 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

Eurostop-SectorsAn 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

Fulfilment
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
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.

Outsourced/Managed/Cloud
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.

Step-by-Step approach

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

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Eurostop Limited, West Africa House, Ashbourne Road, London, W5 3QP
020 8991 2700
www.eurostop.co.uk

 

 

 

 

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Oil prices steady as lockdowns curb U.S. stimulus optimism

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Oil prices steady as lockdowns curb U.S. stimulus optimism 1

By Noah Browning

LONDON (Reuters) – Oil prices were steady on Monday as support from U.S. stimulus plans and jitters about supplies competed with worries about demand due to renewed lockdowns to prevent the coronavirus from spreading.

Brent crude futures for March rose 7 cents, or 0.1%, to $55.48 a barrel by 1210 GMT. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude for March was up 5 cents, or 0.1%, at $52.32.

“Sentiment was buoyed by expectations for a blockbuster coronavirus relief package … (but) the tug of war between stimulus optimism and virus woes is set to continue,” said Stephen Brennock of broker PVM.

U.S. lawmakers are set to lock horns over the size of a $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package proposed by new President Joe Biden, financial stimulus that would support the economy and fuel demand.

European nations, major consumers, have imposed tough restrictions to halt the spread of the virus, while China reported a rise in new COVID-19 cases, casting a pall over demand prospects in the world’s largest energy consumer.

Barclays raised its 2021 oil price forecasts, but said rising cases in China could contribute to near-term pullbacks.

“Even though the pandemic is not yet slowing down, oil prices have good reasons to start the week with gains,” said Bjornar Tonhaugen from Rystad Energy.

Supply concerns have offered some support. Indonesia said its coast guard seized an Iranian-flagged tanker over suspected illegal fuel transfers, raising the prospect of more tensions in the oil-exporting Gulf.

“A development that always benefits prices is the market turbulence that conflicts create,” Tonhaugen added.

Libyan oil guards halted exports from several main ports in a pay dispute on Monday.

Output from Kazakhstan’s giant Tengiz field was disrupted by a power outage on Jan. 17.

(Editing by David Goodman and Edmund Blair)

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Dollar steadies; euro hurt by vaccine delays and German business morale slump

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Dollar steadies; euro hurt by vaccine delays and German business morale slump 2

By Elizabeth Howcroft

LONDON (Reuters) – The dollar steadied, the euro slipped and riskier currencies remained strong on Monday, as currency markets were torn between optimism about U.S. stimulus plans, and the reality of slow vaccine rollout and the economic impact of lockdowns in Europe.

Market sentiment had turned more cautious at the end of last week as European economic data showed that lockdown restrictions to limit the spread of the virus hurt business activity, dragging stocks lower.

The safe-haven dollar declined gradually overnight, and riskier currencies strengthened. It then recovered some losses after European markets opened, and was at 90.224 against a basket of currencies at 1152 GMT, flat on the day.

On one hand, market sentiment is supported by hopes for President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion fiscal stimulus plans, as well as the expectation that central banks will continue to provide liquidity.

But, in Europe, the extent of the risk appetite was limited by a lack of progress in rolling out the COVID-19 vaccine as well the economic impact of lockdown measures.

German business morale slumped to a six-month low in January, surprising market participants who had expected the survey to show a rise.

“It’s very much a case of hopes for the future against the reality of the first quarter of this year which is going to still prove to be fairly troubled,” said Jeremy Stretch, head of G10 FX strategy at CIBC Capital Markets.

“For now at least, the optimism that we’re hoping for has been somewhat delayed and that has taken a little bit of steam out of the euro and just put a little bit of support back in the dollar but ultimately I think it is still a case of those high-beta commodity currencies, reflation currencies, will continue to perform well,” he said.

Analysts expect a broad dollar decline during 2021. The net speculative short position on the dollar grew to its largest in ten years in the week to Jan. 19, according to weekly futures data from CFTC released on Friday.

The U.S. Federal Reserve meets on Wednesday and Fed Chair Jerome Powell is expected to signal that he has no plans to wind back the Fed’s massive stimulus any time soon – news which could push the dollar down further.

“The process of tapering QE is likely to be a gradual process which could last throughout 2022, and then potentially be followed by the first rate hikes later in 2023,” wrote MUFG currency analyst Lee Hardman.

“In these circumstances, we continue to believe that it is premature to expect the US dollar to rebound now in anticipation of policy tightening ahead, and still see scope for further weakness this year,” he said.

The euro was down around 0.1% against the dollar, at $1.2153 at 1207 GMT. At the European Central Bank meeting last week, President Christine Lagarde said the bank was closely watching the euro. The euro surged 9% last year versus the dollar and reached new two and a half year highs earlier in January.

But despite this verbal intervention, traders remain bullish on the euro, expecting the bar for a rate cut to be high.

Elsewhere, the Australian dollar, which is seen as a liquid proxy for risk, was up 0.2% at 0.7726 versus the U.S. dollar at 1208 GMT.

The New Zealand dollar was up 0.5%, while the commodity-driven Norwegian crown was up 0.2% the euro.

The safe-haven Japanese yen was flat on the day at 103.815 versus the U.S. dollar.

Graphic: USD, https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/mkt/qmypmyjdxpr/USD.png

(Reporting by Elizabeth Howcroft, editing by Ed Osmond and Chizu Nomiyama)

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Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific warns of capacity cuts, higher cash burn

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Hong Kong's Cathay Pacific warns of capacity cuts, higher cash burn 3

(Reuters) – Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd on Monday warned passenger capacity could be cut by about 60% and monthly cash burn may rise if Hong Kong installs new measures that require flight crew to quarantine for two weeks.

Hong Kong’s flagship carrier said the expected move will increase cash burn by about HK$300 million ($38.70 million) to HK$400 million per month, on top of current HK$1 billion to HK$1.5 billion levels.

Hong Kong is set to require flight crew entering the Asian financial hub for more than two hours to quarantine in a hotel for two weeks, the South China Morning Post reported last week, citing sources.

“The new measure will have a significant impact on our ability to service our passenger and cargo markets,” Cathay said in a statement, adding that expected curbs will also reduce its cargo capacity by 25%.

The airline, in an internal memo seen by Reuters, requested for volunteers among its crew who could fly for three weeks, followed by two weeks of quarantine and 14 days free of duty, adding it will be a temporary measure and not all its flight will require such an operation.

“We continue to engage with key stakeholders in the Hong Kong Government,” the memo said.

In an emailed response to Reuters, a Hong Kong government spokesperson said: “In the light of the evolving pandemic situation locally and internationally, the Government will keep reviewing and refining the arrangements applicable to different categories of exempted persons, including air crew, with reference to all relevant considerations.”

Separately, a company spokeswoman said the airline could not detail the impact on vaccine transport specifically in terms of cargo shipments.

The aviation industry has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic as many countries imposed travel restrictions to contain its spread.

In December, Cathay’s passenger numbers fell by 98.7% compared to a year earlier, though cargo carriage was down by a smaller 32.3%.

(Reporting by Shriya Ramakrishnan in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Jamie Freed in Sydney and Twinnie Siu in Hong Kong; Editing by Bernard Orr, Arun Koyyur and Mark Potter)

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