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GUEST OPINION 8 rules that make your point-of-sale the omnichannel catalyst

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Shoppers, whether in food or fashion, only really notice a brand, rather than the individual channels they use. With this in mind, it’s crucial that retailers must give serious thought to providing customers with complete transactional consistency across all the channels. Here Steve Thomas, CTO of Omnico Group offers eight top tips to turn your POS into your omni-channel brand catalyst.

In particular, consumer research has consistently shown that shoppers place high value on the in-store experience, loyalty and levels of service – with each given equal importance.

Achieving significant improvements in these areas is tough, but it is the omnichannel point-of-sale (POS) that will be the key driver of change. Here are eight rules, which if followed, will make POS a true catalyst in omnichannel retail.

  1. Consistency is the key

Transparency and price-uniformity are critical to winning loyalty, so a POS engine needs to ensure that the same prices and promotions are delivered consistently across all channels.

Shoppers should have exactly the same basket total no matter how they shop, with no discrepancies when a wish-list or a basket is started online and completed in-store for example.

To achieve all this, the same POS transaction engine must operate behind a retailer’s website, mobile app, mobile-assisted service devices, kiosks, self-checkout machines and fixed devices on store counters. This will allow retailers to ensure absolute consistency in prices and promotions.

  1. Customers must be able to scan and pay using any touch-point

The use of tablets and Android devices is turning POS into a mobile ‘Point of Service’ that empowers store associates to up-sell and cross-sell, while providing an enhanced customer experience.

From the customer’s perspective, for reasons of convenience and speed, they are increasingly happy to scan and pay themselves when making simple purchases and often expect retailers to have these channels in place.

For example Coop retail stores in Denmark recently launched their own mobile scanning and payment system, powered by Omnico that allows customers to use their smartphones to scan and pay for goods in stores. By doing so, the retailer was able to both simplify and speed up the payment process.

  1. The basket must follow the shopper

It is vital that the basket always follows the shopper, across all channels and devices. This means that potential purchases will carry through from the web portal to the physical store, and vice versa, even if the customer is using more than one device.

It also means that the POS needs to understand where the stock is and how it can reach the shopper at the location of their choice – a single view of stock across the retail organisation. POS needs to support intelligent fulfilment, enabling processes such as click and collect, ship from store, ship to store, reserve and try, and many more, to ensure the customer gets what they want, when they want it.

  1. Always be able to process transactions

As has been previously said, rule one requires a POS engine to be behind every touch-point, and therefore operating it in the cloud is the obvious solution. But it is not as simple as having a version of the website running on terminals in-store because network failure would mean the store could not trade. Stores remain king in the shopping experience and must have the resilience in place to always allow shoppers to make their purchases.

It is imperative that the POS solution can switch to operate stand-alone in a store environment when networks fail. Today’s technology enables POS systems to build in automatic switchover to locally powered devices, and then recover back to the cloud when network connectivity resumes.

  1. It’s all about personalisation

Providing a personalised experience with relevant and timely information and promotional offers is critical to success with customers.

An omnichannel POS needs to display the same recommendations in-store as used to tempt customers online or via email, and importantly, ensure the offers they receive are consistent and redeemable regardless of the shopping channel.

  1. Multiple devices, multiple payments

Fast payment is vital as patience is short these days. Yet different shoppers prefer different payment methods and new solutions come into use all the time.

A POS provider must have an open approach to integration, so they can swiftly adopt new payment technologies and link into specialist providers.

Coop Denmark, for example, launched three new innovative payment technologies in quick succession to accommodate shopper preferences and give them payment choice. A mobile payment app enabled loyal Coop Bank customers to pay quickly, but also supported new payment technologies from SWIPP and Mobile Pay within the same app.

  1. The solution should scale to meet demand

Fluctuating demand is always a resource-headache for the CIO. The solution is to deploy POS in the cloud, allowing a retailer to scale up and down their computer resources and processing power based on the number of customer transactions.

It means the retailer is ready for heavier trading periods such as school holidays, Christmas, Valentine’s Day and so on, and then draws back the technology requirement during quieter times.

Utilising resources in this manner enables a CIO to optimise the cost of ownership.

  1. Mind your language

As requirements for tax, payments and languages differ across countries, a modern omnichannel POS needs to be able to support these legal requirements effectively.

Plug-in technology now makes this a simple operation. It also means that transactions can follow the customer across borders. Business travellers, for example, will increasingly want to shop at an airport and pick up their purchases later at a hotel or at home in a different country. The same goes for guests at resorts or theme parks, who would undoubtedly prefer to have their souvenirs and other purchases shipped home rather than taking up space in their luggage.

Taken together, these eight tips about POS will enable organisations to quickly and effectively adapt to the changing retail landscape and drive the improvements they must make if omnichannel retail is to be a success. Ignoring them will leave any retailer floundering with a mish-mash of technologies, trailing behind the market leaders and potentially losing market share.

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