How EPoS Technologies Can Help Retailers Embrace the Changing Demands of Irish Consumers
Irish retail customers’ recent penchant for digital technologies is again driving change for retail operations. Research points out that customers are continuing to quickly modify purchase behaviour and also the manner in which they interact with retailers in-store.
Recent research indicates that online shopping continues to grow briskly at the expense of brick and mortar store sales. A recent Irish Times article, quoting research conducted by Visa, notes that “Irish household spending climbed 2.5 percent in August (2017) compared with a year earlier. The increase was driven by e-commerce, which jumped 11.5 percent year-on-year. Face-to-face expenditure declined for the 11th successive month.”
Other studies from Retail Excellence and Barclays Bank Ireland support the finding that online shopping continues to grow exponentially. And yet, as Bank of Ireland research points out, “while online spending is climbing dramatically, Irish people say they prefer the physical act of shopping...53 percent of consumers told the bank’s researchers that they prefer shopping in person.”
But even when visiting traditional shops, consumer expectations regarding the face-to-face shopping experience – and what they want in-store – is also changing. Various research indicates that today’s ‘modern’ shopper wants to access information regarding prospective purchases instantly while physically in-store via virtual mobile devices and only want help from a physical salesperson at the end of the purchase consideration. Other research indicates that shoppers want to be able to check out – and pay – anywhere in the store, rather than only at traditional till locations.
What all of this research indicates is that shoppers are demanding greater flexibility on the part of retailers. And for retailers, meeting that demand is – in large part – a matter of embracing appropriate technology.
Those that don’t embrace methods to meet transformational consumer demand (think of American retailers Toys R Us, Sears, and Radio Shack among many others who are currently losing – or have lost – the fight for survival) could face extinction.
Centralised EPoS Technologies Drive Change
Many Irish retailers have already – or are in the midst of – developing an online presence. E-commerce sites, working hand in hand with traditional retail outlets, have the advantage of diversifying retailers’ distribution channels while meeting accelerating consumer demand for always-on product availability and convenience.
Setting up an online presence is relatively simple. However, what many retailers may forget is the potentially cumbersome back office administration that comes with running two separate operations: online and bricks and mortar.
When developed separately, and if not tightly integrated, each operation’s stock, transactions, accounts, and related workflows and data will have to be individually administered. All transaction data will have to be keyed into accounts systems to meet financial, compliance and reporting requirements. All of these tasks must be completed by personnel who could well be doing something else, and it all costs money.
In short, ‘separate’ does not seem to be the most elegant or efficient solution.
At the same time, some retailers are seeking to meet consumer demand for a more flexible, faster, and more personalised in-shop experience by deploying mobile technologies (think smart tablets that can enable customers to search for additional product information, and facilitate instant checkout) at key points throughout retail operations.
The question then becomes: How can retailers integrate the quest to resolve these various challenges into a single, seamless, integrated solution?
Integrated EPoS Centralisation is Key
Fortunately, state-of-the-art EPoS (Electronic Point of Sale) offers methods to fully integrate all traditional in-store till requirements with mobile smart devices and online e-commerce workflows – including all transactions and related workflows – into a single centralised solution.
With a centralised EPoS solution, all transactions from any source are continually poled and exported to a centralised data repository. That data is then migrated to the retailers’ accounting platform. This solution enables business owners and managers to:
• Future-proof your operation and meet constantly changing consumer expectations whether or not those changes take place in-store or online; today or tomorrow
• Speed customer transactions at point of sale or online to improve the customer experience and generate goodwill
• Increase customer loyalty through a personalised in-store experience and promotional programmes
• Quickly poll and save all transactions across multiple in-store or out-of-store platforms to increase efficiency
• Accurately track stock across all product lines, no matter where transactions take place, to minimise stock-outs as well as capital tied up in stock
• Minimise overheads by consolidating back office administration for multiple distribution channels
• Consolidate all financial data into a centralised accounting resource, while still having the ability to drill down and analyse specific profit centres, products, and similar
• Increase profitability and competitive advantage
We Have the Tools
EPoS for Sage Accounts from DB Computer Solutions delivers the flexibility and agility retailers require to meet ever-changing consumer demand and behaviour. Our integrated EPoS solutions enable retailers to centralise diverse distribution channels, while providing exceptional reliability at the point of sale with robust Electronic Till solutions.
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