Readily Available Retail Technology

We can quickly conjure up the image of eager technology sales reps, enthusiastic about their company’s offering to transform our business. And quite often they’re right. But integration is another matter, and what some critics deem the company’s ‘clay layer’ – that cadre of employees most resistant to technological or process change – may derail an otherwise worthy tech upgrade because of their affinity for the status quo.

Still, certain tech-driven tools have been put to use over and over again on shop floors, and we need not even be early adopters to take advantage.

Away from the queue

With multiple points of sale (mPOS) devices, the restriction to complete transactions at the till is swiped away. In practice, sales assistants execute the purchase online with a tablet from wherever the customer stands. Beyond the obvious flexibility, it creates an important platform for product recommendations, upselling, and the sort of interaction where the customer feels more valued. It is one thing for the rucksack in question to be out of stock, it is quite another for the sales associate to turn things around by ordering a replacement on the spot for hapless customers.

Managing employees

Instead of relying on sign-in/sign-out sheets that are prone to error or manipulation, well-constructed scheduling software eliminates the frenzy of moving pieces such as peak hours, change requests, lateness and absences, overtime pay and employee availability into systems that more fully run themselves. Scheduling time is less valuable than time on the shop floor dealing with customer queries, and such systems meaningfully free up managers’ time.

Beyond software

A few less software-driven solutions can be easy wins. Boost energy efficiency savings by switching to LEDs or simply by designing and implementing energy-saving practices for employees to follow.

Readily available, if accessible only for established players, are the robotics playing a game-changing part in the efficiency of warehouses as they locate and sort supermarket goods into individual delivery boxes. There’s a reason Ocado can offer a one-hour delivery window: its head of technology proudly claims that ‘we deliver to our customers in one-hour slots with 95 per cent on-time accuracy and 99 per cent order accuracy’. (The intellectual property rights associated with such set-ups can also be crucial.)

Simplifying cash

How about a simple solution to cash management at the till? Typically applying precision measurement to each denomination’s weight, intelligent cash drawers do away with the time spent counting cash and the errors introduced during a busy period in a restaurant or shop (if not by theft). One offering, the SMARTtill, counts the cash itself after each transaction, feeding cash flow information through to offsite monitors and immediately alerting associates to any discrepancies in the purchase. The lower cognitive load frees up restaurant staff and sales clerks to focus their attention on the customer, and overworked managers have one less worry.

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