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How River Island is bringing its technology up-to-date – from a move to the cloud to mobile points of sale

River Island has taken smartphones into stores. Image courtesy of Scandit/River Island

River Island this week shows how it is bringing its use of digital technology up-to-date. The retailer this week announced the roll-out of in-store staff smartphones that can be used as mobile points of sale. This comes in the wake of a move to the cloud that started during the early months of the Covid-19 pandemic, as set out at IRX 2022 this week. 

In-store smartphones

The fashion retailer announces this week that it has issued each of the 3,500 staff in its 300 shops with their own smartphones that they can use to answer shopper questions – and that can also operate as a mobile point-of-sale.

River Island has been operating on the UK high street for more than 70 years – and its use of technology in its stores comes at a time when many of its erstwhile competitors – from Topshop, Miss Selfridge and Dorothy Perkins to Debenhams – are now online-only retail brands. 

“We’re on a mission to digitally transform, modernise and evolve our retail stores nationwide,” says Paul Cooper, head of technology at River Island, which is ranked Top50 in RXUK Top500 research. The technology, he says, enables its store staff to be confident in offering a “superior and speedy customer experience”. 

The Scandit-enabled phones enable staff to find information about products, check stock availability and locate click and collect packages for customers coming into store. The Samsung Galaxy XCover smartphones, loaded with Microsoft Teams, can also act as a mobile point-of-sale to cut queues in-store. 

Scandit chief executive Samuel Mueller, says: “Today’s shoppers enter stores armed with data in their pockets and expect a frictionless, convenient omnichannel experience. Working with River Island, we have equipped their store associates with the ability to access real-time information to provide a concierge-like service to customers while enhancing store operation processes. Deploying connected, user-friendly smartphones to all staff also helps to attract and retain employees in a competitive labour market.”  

Move to the cloud

River Island’s head of cloud and infrastructure Tonino Greco also set out this week how the retailer moved to the cloud, in a project that started just as the Covid-19 pandemic hit. The retailer had already been using AWS for seven years when it started its move to the AWS cloud in March 2020. 

“River Island has been around for 70 years and for the last 30 years, we’ve had an IT department,” said Greco, speaking at IRX 2022 this week. “So you can imagine the really old heritage legacy systems that we had. How much downtime you can tolerate is a consideration.” When stores closed in lockdown, more shoppers came to the website. However, the store closures also made it easier for the retailer to find out information from across the business – including its stores – that was needed for the move to the cloud. In his presentation, Greco took the audience in detail through the process of how the retailer made that move. 

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